As members of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, we would also automatically be members of the Maryland State Democratic Party Central Committee, which would mean we would have a say in formal reforms to the State and Local Party. Some of those reforms we’d push for would be:
It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, Maryland still uses an archaic, anti-Democratic, Central Committee appointment process to fill vacancies for State Delegates and Senators, whenever they occur. Many other states use a special election process to fill these vacancies, as Maryland even uses for many local elections, and it is past time that we make this common sense, Democratic reform to allow voters the ability to choose their own representatives. Despite Howard County’s own Democratic State Senator Clarence Lam introducing a bill every year to switch partially to special elections for vacancies, the bill consistently fails – potentially because approximately 25% of our state representatives originally got there by being appointed, and not elected! Maintaining the appointment process instead of special elections creates cronyism, and gives unelected, appointed people an unfair incumbency advantage.
One of the biggest critiques you hear from many voters about the Democratic Party is that they do not stand for anything. Unfortunately, without an official platform to point to to show on paper what your values and policy positions are, that critique is kind of true. We, as a State and Local Democratic Party, must make it loud and clear to voters what we as a Party stand for, and what we will fight specifically and substantively for for the voters. Also, creating an official State and Local Democratic Party Platform will give us something to hold Democratic elected officials and candidates accountable to.
Elections are great, but they only have any legitimacy if they are free, open, and fair. We’ve seen unprecedented voter suppression attempts by the Republican Party, and it is important that we as a Democratic Party stand against that. However, it is also important that we oppose voter suppression tactics even when being used by our own Party. Unfortunately, in many one-Party states like MD, the dominant Party weaponizes a “closed primary”, which only allows registered members of their Party to vote in their Primary. This has the oftentimes desired outcome of drowning out and further alienating the voices of independent or unaffiliated voters, and giving the impression that we do not care about their opinions. We think that if we really want to be inclusive and bring new people into the Party, we should allow independents to vote in Democratic Primaries – it is the Democratic thing to do, and would likely increase turnout!
Although we are running in the Democratic Party, we are in full support of open, competitive, Democratic elections. However, in a 2 Party system, these elections often end up boiling down to a competition between the lesser of 2 evils, which creates greater voter apathy and decreases voter turnout. One way to increase competition and encourage the growth of Third Parties in the US would be to eliminate the Spoiler Effect of voting for third parties, by implementing a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system. RCV systems require candidates to get a MAJORITY of votes to win, rather than just a plurality, and allows people to rank candidates in order of their preference – if the top vote getter does not have a majority, then those whose first choice candidate was the candidate with the least votes have their votes go to their second choice candidate, and so on, until a candidate finally has a majority. This system would allow people to vote for Third Party candidates, without feeling like they’re risking making their more-preferred of the 2 Party candidates lose.
We’ve seen from the Current members of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee that serving on the Central Committee while working for elected Democrats is a massive conflict of interest, and also creates unnecessarily bad optics and vulnerabilities for the local Party and candidates. Make no mistake: it is the job of a Central Committee member to represent the Democratic VOTERS, and NOT the Democratic ELECTEDS! But when members of the Central Committee are literally paid staff of elected Democrats, it is nearly impossible to maintain that separation, and the agenda of the elected officials becomes the agenda of the Central Committee, which is not supposed to be the case. The most glaring example of this conflict of interest coming into play was during the debate to end the ICE contract in Howard County in 2020, when most of the local Democratic voters wanted the contract to end, but many Central Committee members did PR for the County Executive whom some of them worked for, and called to keep the contract. Even more of a conflict of interest would be for Central Committee members themselves to simultaneously serve in another elected office, which state rules do allow, but individual County Central Committees have already passed local rules against. We’d like to pass a similar local rule here in Howard County, while pushing for one at the State Party level.