By Justin Nalley.
I am the Policy Analyst at the ACLU Maryland. This is my first time in front of this body, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. The ACLU MD opposes the recommendations put forth by the redistricting commission and respectfully urges you to reject the commission’s plan.
Baltimore County has experienced tremendous diverse growth over the last 10 years, and this diversity should be embraced and reflected in how the community elects candidates of their choice. The number of white residents in the county has decreased by 13% and there has been an increase in the number of Black residents by 22%. Overall, residents of color now comprise 47% of the County’s total population.
For the purpose of redistricting, we must use voting age population, as it is a more accurate measure of electoral potential in map drawing. The voting age population for the county is an estimated 46% residents of color with 30% Black. The map put forth by the commission does not use voting age population, nor does it take into account the change in County population. An estimated six of the seven council districts in the recommendations have a majority white voting age population, while the majority of Black voters are packed into the current District 4.
The ACLU MD, along with the Baltimore County NAACP, have submitted four options for the County to consider for the County maps. Each proposal creates two majority Black districts, based on Voting Age Population, and a third equally split district. Each map complies with the Voting Rights Act, and the ability for minority voters to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice.
To be clear, the Council should view these maps as options to show that two majority Black districts can and should be created to comply with the Voting Rights Act. We welcome any other maps that the Council creates that keeps this spirit and is in accordance with the County Charter.
One majority Black district was sufficient in 2001, but 20 years later that is no longer the case. One district has been able to carry and elevate the voice of the Black community, but with the change in population, it’s time to support that district and comply with the Voting Rights Act by creating another majority Black council district. Thank you for your time.
Justin Nalley, Education Policy Analyst with the ACLU MD, gave the above testimony at the Baltimore County Redistricting Public Hearing on October 26th, 2021.