The Daily Record: Organizations call for special elections to fill Maryland General Assembly openings
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record on October 10, 2023 and was written by Jack Hogan.
Below is a description of Common Cause Maryland and Maryland PIRG’s renewed call for legislative action to require special elections to fill vacancies in the legislature.
Two self-described pro-democracy organizations on Tuesday renewed their calls for Maryland state lawmakers to require special elections to fill vacancies in the legislature.
The nonprofits Common Cause of Maryland and Maryland PIRG — part of a network of state-based, citizen-funded Public Interest Research Groups — sent out statements days after state Senate Finance Committee Chair Melony Griffith announced that she will resign from the legislature to become the president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association.
Joanne Antoine, executive director for Common Cause Maryland, said that voters should have a say in legislature openings the same way they do when vacancies arise with the state comptroller, attorney general and the U.S. Senate.
“The General Assembly can’t continue to allow a handful of individuals to speak on behalf of thousands of voters,” Antoine said in a statement. “Letting another session pass with no action continues to diminish the voice of the voters.”
Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG, echoed this, saying the state is long overdue for establishing a special elections process for open seats in the legislature.
“There is no doubt that appointed policymakers are committed to public service and their districts, but our democracy would be stronger and more resilient if we joined state legislatures across the country that hold special elections,” Scarr said in a statement.
Heading into an election, candidates who were appointed to fill a vacancy can benefit from increased name recognition and the work of their incumbency.
Nearly one in three state senators and more than one in five state delegates were initially appointed to their positions, rather than elected, according to Common Cause and Maryland PIRG
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