Maryland voters approve a number of ballot questions

Posted at 6:28 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 18:28:36-05

The excitement Tuesday night was centered on the presidential race, but ballot measures in a number of states put the spotlight on some controversial issues.

Seven states voted to approve the legalization of marijuana while others looked at tightening gun control and raising the minimum wage.

None of those topics were on the ballot in Maryland, but voters in the state had to make a decision on a number of issues like the appointment process for vacancies in some statewide offices, using taxpayer money for local campaigns, and implementing new term limits.

On the ballot for everyone in Maryland was a question on how the governor should fill any vacancies left by the attorney general or comptroller. Those who voted this election decided the governor would have to fill the vacancy with a replacement from the same political party as the vacating official. That party would provide the governor with a list of names or if no names are provided, the governor would still need to select a successor from the party as the former official.

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Aside from the one statewide question, there were others specific to the county in which people were voting. In Howard County, there was a question having to do with campaign finance.

“So Question A sets up the citizens' election fund, which establishes a new way to run for office in Howard County,” said Emily Scarr, the director with Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).

PIRG advocated for the passage of the question. They succeeded with 52 percent of the vote.

Scarr said the new amendment will help candidates for County Executive, County Council, or both fund their campaigns without having to take money from special interest groups. Instead, the new public fund would match contributions from individuals and the money in the fund would come from tax dollars.

“Well, the way I think of it is if we don't own our elections someone else does. Sure it costs money but so does everything that's worthwhile. Roads cost money, our schools cost money, we pay money for our voting booths, and we should also be paying money to make sure that corporations aren't the ones funding our elected officials,” said Scarr.

The details are still being worked out, but right now Scarr said it'd come to around $2 per taxpayer per year. “Making sure that at all levels of government, our elected officials are accountable to us and running on the strength of their ideas, not access to big money,” she said.

In Baltimore County, a proposal to create a commission that would review the Charter of Baltimore County was approved.

“Right now we haven't had our charter reviewed in over 25 years and this is basically an automatic review of the efficiencies of county government,” said Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who proposed the legislation that put the question on the ballot.

The commission, who would be appointed by the County Executive and County Council, would meet every 10 years and make recommendations.

“It's good government to review your charter and recommend efficiencies and allow citizens to tell us how they think things can be improved,” Marks said.

In Anne Arundel County, voters approved all but one of the six charter amendments on the ballot. They narrowly rejected changing the procurement process for county contracts. The amendment would've waived formal bidding for purchases less than $75,000. The current threshold is $25,000.

And there are now new term limits for the Carroll County Board of Education. Voting members may not serve on the Board for more than two consecutive four-year terms.

In Baltimore City, all 10 ballot questions passed including one that establishes a children and youth fund. Three cents of every $100 of Baltimore’s assessable property would go to the fund annually that's estimated to be around $11 million per year for youth programs.

For the complete results of every ballot question on Maryland ballots, click here.

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