Activists calling for redistricting in Federalsburg

FEDERALSBURGH, Md. – In Federalsburg, civil rights advocates and the ACLU of Maryland are warning town officials of legal danger.

That is if changes are not made to what they’re calling a “Discriminatory election system” The issue dates back to August 2022 when the ACLU of Maryland wrote to town officials on problems with the current at-large election system. Carl Snowden with the Caucus of African American Leaders says the system has to be reformed to equally represent African Americans in Federalsburg.

He says the town of Federalsburg is long overdue for black representation in local government as this also marks the town’s 200th anniversary since the town was founded. Advocates argue the election system does not allow for equal opportunity representation for Black residents, which make up 43% of the voting-age population.

Snowden says now is the time for change. “During the entire time, there’s never been an African American to serve on the town council. Under the two scenarios that are being proposed it will almost guarantee that African Americans for the first time have representation in the town of Federalsburg,” says Snowden.

As a solution advocates have been working with town officials to transition into a district-based election system. Options include a 2-district system or a 4-district system. Another option would be cumulative voting, meaning every voter has as many votes as the candidates running. There’s also ranked choice voting meaning voters rank their choices on the ballot.

Activists say there are pros and cons to each of these methods to be worked out. Town manager Larry DiRe worries that with new maps will come confusion for voters, adding this process will take time.

You can look at the proposed maps on the town of Federalsburg website. The next meeting will take place on February 6th.

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