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10-30-12: When to Vote for the Mayor
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Next week, Baltimore City voters will decide on Question K, which would align Baltimore city elections with the presidential cycle. Right now, the elections take place in an off year between the federal and most state elections.
The City Council and state legislature have already approved the move, but because this is a change to the city charter, it needs approval from city residents. There is some opposition to the measure, including from the Baltimore Election Group, which believes elections should be moved to the state cycle, not presidential. Here's the language on the ballot:
"Resolution No. 12-03 for the purpose of confirming State Legislation, by providing for the election of the Mayor, the Comptroller, and the President and Members of the City Council in 2016 and in every succeeding fourth year; adjusting the terms of office for those elected in 2011."
Supporters of the measure say that aligning the elctions with the presidential cycle would increase turnout—in last year’s city primary, 75,000 people voted--about 12 percent of the city's population, and 23 percent of all registered voters in the city. They also cite cost. Because the city is running an extra election, it costs around $3.7 million, total. (In last year's mayoral general election, it averaged out to about $33 per voter.)
Opponents believe elections should be moved – but to the state cycle, not the presidential. They say moving to the presidential cycle would give those currently in office an extra year, and that there's better turnout, generally, for state primaries than for presidential primaries, which is a major election in Democratic Baltimore.
We spoke with Councilwoman Rikki Spector, who sponsored the original bill in the city council, and with Doc Cheatham, a community activist and election specialist who opposes the measure. Councilwoman Spector told us that if voters don't uphold the law, then it doesn't matter--the state law will still take precedent. We confirmed that with City Solicitor George Nilson and the office of the state attorney general.
So, while there are many significant questions on the ballot and thus important reasons to vote, apparently Question K on page 9 is not one of them. The decision of voters decision won’t affect the law. What are your thoughts about this measure being on the ballot? Is it a waste of voters’ time? Let us know at 410-881-3162. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early voting is canceled today due to the storm, but will be extended through Friday, November 2.