Act now to support 3 Voting Rights Bills in Annapolis

The Maryland Green Party has endorsed three bills for this year's General Assembly designed to advance voting rights and electoral reform for all Marylanders. All three bills are in line with core elements of the Green Party Platform.

The Green Party's platform calls for ranked choice voting, multi-member districts, and proportional representation as a solution to the polarization of winner-take-all elections. The Green Party platform also calls to protect and build upon the provisions in the federal Voting Rights Act to ensure that local voting systems do not restrict voting rights based on protected class status. 

We believe that our endorsement of these bills reaffirms a longstanding commitment that alternatives to current voting systems must protect and advance the voting rights of all Marylanders, but particularly the rights of voters in a protected class as referenced in the Federal Voting Rights Act – those voters who are part of a race, color, or language minority group. Taken together, these bills encourage electoral innovation and reform while ensuring that those reforms protect and advance hard-won voting rights.

The Maryland Green Party endorses these three 2023 bills in the Annapolis legislature:

HB 1104 (the Voting Rights Act of 2023 - Counties and Municipalities) 

What It Does: This legislation, based on the most successful aspects of the federal voting rights act, sets standards for evaluating county and municipal electoral systems to ensure that they do not restrict or impede the rights of protected class members. It requires pre-clearance of proposed changes for counties or municipalities that have a pattern and practice of restricting those rights, and it gives the judiciary the ability to remedy harmful voting systems with ones that better advance those rights.

Why It Is Needed:

Notably, while this bill would create conditions to review alternative electoral systems for their compliance with law, it also gives the court the ability to order the implementation of these alternative  systems as remedies if it can be proven that they better protect and advance voting rights. We believe that this legislation gives electoral reform advocates the frameworks they need to design, measure, and advance long- sought reforms across the state.

HB 334 (Voting Systems - Ranked Choice Voting and Inclusion of City of Takoma Park  Municipal Elections)

What It Does: This bill would move the administration of the Takoma Park municipal election under State Board of Elections’ authority, which would require the State of Maryland to develop process, equipment, and regulations for administering ranked choice voting elections.

Why Is It Needed: If the State Board of Elections administers a municipal ranked choice election, it paves the way for further innovation across the state. One current barrier to RCV is the lack of regulation or equipment to enable it, and this bill would require the state to develop that. Takoma Park has been electing its City Council by ranked choice voting since 2006, including the Green Party’s 2022 Montgomery County Council candidate, Dan Robinson, who served two terms on the Takoma Park City Council. 

HB 344 (Montgomery County – Voting Methods) 

What It Does: This legislation would  provide the Montgomery County Council the ability to pass a law that enabled ranked choice voting for the Montgomery County Council and certain other elected positions. It would also give Montgomery County the ability to design the ballot for such elections. Currently the Maryland General Assembly sets the method of election and the design of the ballot.

Why It Is Needed: Providing the county the ability to determine an electoral system that may better represent its residents is part of the Green value of decentralization. This legislation would provide the biggest, most diverse county in the state with an opportunity to expand what Takoma Park has utilized for more than a decade. It also would set the precedent for other counties to be able to experiment with ranked choice voting or other alternative voting methods.  

"It is vital to foreground racial equity and voting rights as we move forward with electoral reforms," said Montgomery County Green Party Co-Chair Mary Rooker. "For decades the Green Party has offered solutions to our broken political system designed to increase voter choice and remove structural barriers that entrench the two-party US Political system. We believe that system constrains the democratic expression of all voters, with particularly discriminatory effect on voters who are members of protected classes. We believe our Green solutions protect and advance the rights of those voters, but all election systems should be subject to strict review to ensure they do no harm. We support HB 1104 as the next step of our electoral reform movement – it is a critical element for the success of great local bills like HB 344 and HB 334."  

The Maryland Green Party believes it is time that we ensure that our conversations about voting rights and the conversations about electoral reform are linked together. We call on our elected leaders in Annapolis to develop a coordinated strategy to introduce innovative new electoral systems that ensure voter protections. 

In 2023, the Maryland General Assembly can take the first step to building this strategy by passing three Green Party-endorsed bills. In the future we must take further steps to support state-wide ranked choice voting, proportional voting and other reforms. Today we are asking you to reach out and support the best bills introduced in this year’s session. 

Call and email the Election Law Subcommittee of the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee and tell them you want a just electoral system in Maryland that puts voting rights at the forefront. Ask them to pass HB 1104, HB 334, and HB 344.

The Election Law Subcommittee members are as follows:

  1. Jheanelle K Wilkins Chair (410) 841-3493, (301) 858-3493 [email protected]
  2. Kris Fair (410) 841-3472, (301) 858-3472  [email protected]
  3. Jessica M. Feldmark (410) 841-3205, (301) 858-3205 [email protected]
  4. Michael Griffith (410) 841-3444, (301) 858-3444 mike.[email protected]
  5. April Fleming Miller (410) 841-3288, (301) 858-3288 [email protected]
  6. Dalya Attar 410-841-3268, 301-858-3268  [email protected]