What Are Fair Maps? And Why People Care.

By Baltimore County Coalition for Fair Maps.

The results of the 2020 census justify two Majority-Black districts and one Majority-Minority district for Baltimore County in 2021.

In 2000, the County’s minority population was 200,402: 26.6% Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). It was only after pressure from ACLU and NAACP that a majority-Black District – the 4th – was drawn. That was back in 2001.

By 2010, the County minority census had grown by 50% to 300,473, or 37.3% BIPOC. Because of how the lines were drawn in 2011, the 4th District remained the only majority-Minority district.

As of the 2020 census, the County population is now 48.2% BIPOC, with 30.3% Black.        

The Redistricting Commission – appointed by the County Council chairman – said publicly that they didn’t want to make any changes to the district maps, and that no changes were possible anyway. Six different maps were drawn by ACLU, Baltimore County NAACP, and Indivisible Towson, proving them wrong.

The County Council’s proposed plan would maintain a white majority in six of seven Council districts by “packing” a supermajority of Black voters into its single majority-Black district and splitting remaining Black voters into majority-white districts, both tactics the U.S. Supreme Court has counseled against. 

“In the redistricting construct, drawing 6 out of 7 majority-white districts in a county that is almost 50% (minority), clearly dilutes the votes of people of color and violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” wrote Gilda Daniels, a law professor at University of Baltimore. “To gerrymander districts in a way to maintain white political power instead of providing an equal opportunity to participate prevents people of color from electing their preferred candidates.”

The Council, after pressure from County residents, said they would work on a new map. The Council’s version of the map is essentially the same, except that now they’ve packed 70% of the County’s Black population into District 4.

The Council said their map results in two majority-minority districts, Districts 1 and 4.  Districts 4 was ALREADY Majority-Black. District 1 was already a BIPOC plurality; it’s now proposed to be 53.8% BIPOC with 23.3% Black. But NOT the second Majority-Black District.

The Council also said their map “unifies Towson and all the surrounding areas that identify with Towson.” Towson would now be represented by three, instead of four, Council members – and three, instead of four, School Board members. The only unification was that of downtown Towson, which is not divided in half as originally proposed by the Commission.  

The protests and actions of civil rights activists interrupted the Council’s plan to adopt the Commission’s map. And embarrassed the Council into, eventually, posting an interactive map of the current and proposed district lines. But the Council’s proposed map still “clearly dilutes the votes of people of color and violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

This is why people and organizations from around the County are demanding the County Council draw #FairMaps.

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