Questions Arise About Public Comment Ahead Of Md. Special Session On Redistricting

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Marylanders have the opportunity to testify during a General Assembly special session next week, but one group says the process of submitting comment is not very inviting.

Governor Larry Hogan Thursday encouraged support for the fair maps he has transmitted to the Maryland General Assembly on behalf of the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission.

“Gerrymandering has rightly been called ‘a cancer on our democracy,’” Hogan said. “We finally have the chance to restore fairness to our political system, and the Annapolis party bosses are instead scheming to further erode the public trust with disgracefully gerrymandered maps. It is an embarrassment. I encourage Marylanders who support transparency and accountability to testify during next week’s special session for the citizens commission’s fair maps.”

According to the Governor’s office, the co-chairs of the commission will testify Monday at 12:30. The following instructions for the public to take part were provided:

For more information on the hearing, please go to this link. After clicking on the link on the General Assembly website, you will need to sign up for a MyMGA account to testify. Public registration to provide testimony is open through 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3.

Thursday, Fair Maps Maryland spokesman Doug Mayer said the Maryland General Assembly was attempting to exclude people from participating in the special session.

“From the start of this process it has been clear that the legislature has no real interest in public input or transparency, ” Mayer said. “Requiring a convoluted, ten-plus step process in order to testify on redistricting would be laughable if it wasn’t such a slap in the face to the democratic process and anyone who cares about good government.”

“A system designed to be this onerous makes sense when you recognize that their true intention all along has been to gaslight the public and suppress Marylander’s right to vote from behind closed doors. We are calling on the Maryland General Assembly to immediately extend the sign-up period for public testimony, and to provide specific instructions for how citizens can sign up, followed by immediate confirmation and information on next steps.”

As provided by Fair Maps Maryland:

Below are the steps that must be taken by any Marylander wishing to participate in the special session:

1. Visit the Maryland General Assembly website.
2. Click the “Witness Sign Up” link.
3. Click “Create a MyMGA Tracking Account.”
4. Complete the form to create your account and confirm the account using the email you provided.
5. Sign into your account.
6. Click “Witness Sign Up” on the left-hand side. 
7. Fill out the first line for “HB0001″—these are the maps created by Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission. 
8. Choose how you wish to testify. If you wish to submit written testimony, upload your testimony as a .PDF file using the “upload” button.
9. Fill out the second line for “HB0002″—these are the maps created by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission.
10. Choose how you wish to testify. If you wish to submit written testimony, upload your testimony as a .PDF file using the “upload” button.
11. Click the red “Save” button near the top of the page.
12. Confirm your uploads & sign ups by clicking the red “Signed Up Items” button.
13. Wait to receive an email before the hearing with information on next steps and how to participate virtually.

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