Gerrymander Meander 2: You joined the party, now join the protest!
Scores of people came out on Sunday, July 16th for a unique protest against gerrymandering in Maryland. Attendees from across the state visited four restaurants, crossing five congressional districts in under thirteen miles to raise awareness for redistricting reform.
The Tame the Gerrymander Coalition organized this restaurant crawl, deemed the “Gerrymander Meander 2”. Lead organizers included Common Cause Maryland, The League of Women Voters of Maryland, No Labels Maryland, and No More Gerrymandering in Maryland. People gathered at Le Bistro du Village in Baltimore City before traveling to Tark’s Grill in Timonium, Roma’s Café in Cockeysville, and ending at The Greene Turtle in Hunt Valley.
Three years ago the Tame the Gerrymander Coalition hosted the original Gerrymander Meander: a relay-run around District 3, highlighting one of Maryland’s particularly strange districts. The latest event enabled participants to experience the state’s gerrymander in a different way, showing how contorted our districts are as they slice their way across our counties and through our neighborhoods.
The event also commemorated the birthday of Elbridge Gerry, the namesake of the gerrymander. Each stop, complete with food specials, trivia contests, and guest speakers, served as a rallying site for Marylanders. Walter Olson, Co-Chair of the Governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission, observed: “Maryland is an example of a problem the whole country is going to have to deal with.” Other guest speakers included Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Delegate Malone, and Senator Brochin.
Tame the Gerrymander hopes this event is just the next step in tackling this problem. As Ashley Oleson, Administrative Director of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, said: “This meander might only cover thirteen miles, but we are in the final stretch of a marathon. For the past three years we have been building momentum for redistricting reform. Now we have to carry this fight over the finish line.”
With the event over, the organizers are already planning next steps for the campaign. The Governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission is considering holding additional listening sessions in the fall, and turning out the public to those events will be an important goal. In addition, the coalition is planning a roundtable policy discussion for October 21st in Montgomery County. The goal of that event will be to have everyday people from all political backgrounds come together around shared goals for redistricting reform and to build consensus around specific reforms.
While the specifics of the forums and roundtable are being finalized, there are plenty of ways to get involved TODAY:
- Sign the Tame the Gerrymander pledge, and encourage your friends to do the same. (Want postcards? Ask the coalition to mail you some!)
- Join and share the selfie petition on Facebook and Twitter.
There will be plenty of opportunities to be heard, both this fall and in the coming legislative session. Stay tuned for more!