The Maryland Green Party endorses SB 10 and HB 103 in the 2020 session of the Maryland General Assembly. These bills call for a constitutional amendment that would allow for special elections at the next statewide general election for vacancies that occur in the first two years of a general assembly term.
See Also: "Maryland's 45th District delegate should be elected, not appointed" via The Baltimore Sun
The current process dictates that the governor must appoint a person of the same party as the person vacating the position. The governor receives the name of the person via a selection process by the local central committee of the party of the person vacating. Over 20% of the people in the General Assembly were first appointed to their positions via this undemocratic selection process.
The central committee selection process is not regulated by state law and allows nepotism, self-dealing, and backroom deals. It prevents voters from getting to choose their representatives. This process also operates on the assumption that the seat belongs to the party and not the people. The Maryland Green Party believes that this practice is fundamentally at odds with our key value of grassroots democracy, and we support any effort to put more power into the hands of the voters.
It is worth noting that this bill is an imperfect compromise, it still allows for central committees to make temporary appointments for vacancies prior to the special election and also allows for appointments after the special election.
We support this compromise for two reasons. First, a constitutional amendment that puts this process in front of all of the voters of the state in the general election is an ideal opportunity to have conversations about the functioning of electoral process with voters. If this were just a bill in the General Assembly, we would oppose it because it does not go far enough, but we believe a fundamental tenet of grassroots democracy is allowing voters to have a say about which process is best. We believe that this is an excellent opportunity to build support for ending appointments altogether, for ranked choice voting, and for open primaries.
Second, Maryland has some of the longest State house terms in the country. Allowing appointments for three to four years of a four year term is simply unacceptable. While we believe that no one should be appointed, we also believe that given the choice of two year appointments vs four year appointments we prefer two year appointments in the interim while we continue to work to end the appointment process entirely.