Minor Party Ballot Access Legislation Featured in Baltimore City Paper

From the Baltimore City Paper: Baltimore City state Senator Bill Ferguson (D-46th District) is worried about the state of democracy in Baltimore, across Maryland, and countrywide. 

"Voting is the fundamental building block of any democracy," he says, "and the numbers of those voting is a smaller percentage than it should or could be, particularly if you look at age cohorts of young and middle-aged voters." This creates a "looming" problem for democracy, he concludes, so lawmakers need to find "new ways to reach citizens no matter their political persuasion," so that society has "an informed populace that engages in the process" of electing its leaders. 

The dismal state of voting affairs in Baltimore City were made manifest, to much public hand-wringing, in the 2011 mayoral election. In the Democratic primary - the tally that, by default, determines the winner in this nearly one-party burg - victor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake got 39,829 votes, 8% of Baltimore's voting-age population. Less than 10% of some districts' electorates backed the winners in the City Council races. 

Given this, perhaps Ferguson's crisis isn't so much looming as here already, at least in Baltimore. So Ferguson has introduced two bills in the current Maryland General Assembly session that aim to ease the way for those who aren't Republicans or Democrats to engage in political life. One would make it easier for third parties, like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party, to retain status as officially recognized parties in the Free State...

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