Archives of Maryland
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General Assembly Introduction


See also the key to Senate Legislative Districts

From 1790 to 1966, defining the geographical area represented by a legislator was relatively simple. From 1790 to 1837, senators were chosen by electors to represent either the Eastern Shore or the Western Shore. From 1838 to 1966, senators were popularly elected by county or by district within Baltimore City, with each county or district within the city allotted one senator.

From 1790 to 1837, four delegates were popularly elected from each county, along with two delegates each from Baltimore City and Annapolis. After 1837, because of the pressure for constitutional reform, Maryland began to take population into account with regard to the apportionment of delegates. Between 1838 and 1966, county delegation size varied according to population. Each county was assured a minimum of one delegate and none ever received more than thirteen. Between 1837 and 1872, four new counties, Carroll (1837), Howard (1851), Wicomico (1867), and Garrett (1872) were created and allotted representation.

In 1838, the Annapolis delegation was reduced to one member, and after 1841 separate representation from the capital city ceased. The Baltimore City delegation, on the other hand, increased steadily, although not in direct proportion to population growth. By 1865, the city was divided into three legislative districts of six delegates each. In 1904, the city was reapportioned into four legislative districts of six delegates each, and in 1924 into six districts of six delegates each.

In 1965, the General Assembly, in response to state and federal court decisions, divided Maryland into sixteen "senatorial districts" for the election of senators. [ 1 ] Seven of these senatorial districts encompassed two or more counties. While members of the House of Delegates still were chosen from election districts within each county and Baltimore City, some senators, for the first time, represented more than one county's voters. [ 2 ]

In 1972, as a result of a constitutional amendment, legislative districts were created for both the Senate and the House of Delegates on the basis of equal representation by population.[ 3 ] The amendment of 1972 required that each legislative district consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and be of substantially equal population (Maryland Constitution, Article 3, section 4). Districts could encompass part of a county, parts of adjoining counties, an entire county, or more than one county. For the 1974 election, the 1972 amendment divided the state into 47 legislative districts, eleven of which were allotted to Baltimore City. Ten years later, following the 1980 federal census, the Legislative Reapportionment Plan of 1982 retained 47 districts for senators, but redefined their boundaries and subdivided them for elections to the House of Delegates.[ 4 ]

1 Acts of Special October session 1965, chapter 2.
2 For maps and descriptions of legislative district boundaries, see the Maryland Manual beginning with the 1965-1966 edition.
3 Acts of 1972, chapter 363, was ratified by the voters on November 7, 1972.
4 Pursuant to the constitution (Art. 3, sec. 5), the governor presented the Legislative Reapportionment Plan of 1982 to the General Assembly on January 13, 1982, and it became law on February 26, 1982 (Acts of 1982, Joint Resolution number 1). For maps and district boundary descriptions see the successive editions of the Maryland Manual beginning with the 1965-66 edition.

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