BALTIMORE (AP) — A panel of federal judges has ruled that Maryland officials must draw up a new congressional redistricting plan that isn’t tainted by partisan gerrymandering.

The three-judge panel on Wednesday ordered the state to submit the new map by March 7. Otherwise, the court will appoint a commission to produce a redistricting plan for use in the 2020 congressional election.

“This is a victory for the vast majority of Marylanders who want free and fair elections and the numerous advocates from across the political spectrum who have been fighting partisan gerrymandering in our state for decades,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “With this unanimous ruling, the federal court is confirming what we in Maryland have known for a long time – that we have the most gerrymandered districts in the country, they were drawn this way for partisan reasons, and they violate Marylanders’ constitutional rights.”

Several Republican voters sued over the boundaries of one of Maryland’s eight congressional districts, claiming state officials unfairly redrew it in 2011 to favor Democrats.

The federal judges say the state must redraw the 6th congressional district’s lines using “traditional criteria for redistricting,” showing regard for “natural boundaries.”

“We remain steadfastly committed to moving forward in an open and transparent manner that is free of the partisan influence that has dominated the redistricting process in Maryland for far too long,” said Hogan. “It’s past time for Marylanders to choose their representatives instead of politicians choosing their constituents, and today’s ruling is a major step in that direction.”

Redistricting maps are drawn by the governor and approved by the state’s General Assembly, which is currently controlled by Democrats.

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