Advocates renew press to change how legislative vacancies are filled

Maryland Public Interest Group and Common Cause Maryland are advocating for a change to how legislative vacancies are filled.

This article originally appeared in Maryland Matters on January 31, 2024 and was written by Bryan P. Sears.  

Changing the system has been a goal of good government groups including the Maryland Public Interest Group and Common Cause Maryland for several years. Those changes have failed even as the public grows irritated with how appointments are made to fill open seats.

Proponents say the current system ignores voters and must go.

“We’d be joining 28 other states who have figured out how to handle special elections,” said Emily Scarr, director of Maryland Public Interest Research Group. “I’m confident we can figure it out.”

The Senate Education, Energy and Environment Committee Tuesday held hearings on two bills that take a crack at changing how vacant legislative seats would be filled in the future.

An October poll conducted by Annapolis-based Gonzales Research and Media Services for Common Cause Maryland and the Maryland PIRG found that 85% of those surveyed favor a special election to fill vacant seats.

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