Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MCDCC's Sample Ballot

By Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) member Marc Korman.

A recent Maryland Moment post announced that the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee has taken no position on the slots (sorry, video lottery terminals) question on the ballot in November. As MPW’s resident Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) member, I thought I would share how the recommendation process works in our county. Why does it matter? Because the recommendation of the Central Committee is what gets printed on the Party’s sample ballot, which is mailed to the approximately 250,000 registered Democrats in Montgomery County.

The Process So Far
Back in April, I posted information about how to apply for the MCDCC Ballot Advisory Committee. MCDCC appointed the Committee members in May, appointing all fourteen applicants (one of whom later withdrew).

Below is the name of each member and some information about them. The information is not meant to be exhaustive:
1. Elliot Chabot-District 19 MCDCC member and chair of the Ballot Advisory Committee.
2. Stan Boyd-District 20 precinct official.
3. Doug Canter-President of the D16 Democratic Club and precinct official.
4. Lora Drezner-District 15 precinct official.
5. Elihu Eli El-District 20 precinct official.
6. Dolly Kildee-Distirct 17 precinct official.
7. Eric Luedtke-District 14 precinct official.
8. Judy Stout-District 39 precinct official.
9. David Kipping-District 19 precinct official.
10. Rosalind Kipping-District 19 precinct official.
11. Esther Gelman-Former County Council and Planning Board member.
12. David Scull-Former County Council and General Assembly member.
13. Veronica Sheets-District 20 resident.
14. Luis Zapata-Organizer for several campaigns.

The Committee met over the summer, deliberating and exchanging thoughts on the ballot questions both at those meetings and through other means. On September 2nd, they held a three and a half hour public hearing, allowing members of the community to share their views on the important issues at stake. I attended the hearing, which featured testimony from elected officials, community leaders, and others, primarily on the transgender referendum (since removed from the ballot by court order) and slots.

Following the public hearing, the committee deliberated further and came up with recommendations on each of the ballot questions in a detailed report. Their recommendations on the most consequential ballot questions were:

Early Voting- Support
Video Lottery Terminals/Slots-Oppose
Enactment of Transgender Non-Discrimination-Support
Charter Limit Override Votes Increase (Ficker Amendment)-Oppose

What Happens Next
The Ballot Advisory Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Montgomery County Democratic Precinct organization, which consists of a chair and vice chair for each of the approximately 250 electoral precincts in Montgomery County. Later in September, the precinct officials will take a position on each of the ballot questions by vote.

Following the precinct officials’ meeting, MCDCC votes on each of the ballot questions. If MCDCC’s position on a question is the same as the precinct officials, that is the position of the party. If MCDCC disagrees, then the party takes no position by default, meaning they are neutral. I have been told that since MCDCC adopted that policy a decade ago, they have never disagreed with the recommendations of the precinct officials.

Why Does It Matter?
It matters because the Democratic sample ballot will have the party’s positions on it. That ballot is mailed to 250,000 registered Democrats in the County and is available outside the polls on Election Day. It will not determine how every Democrat votes, but it can be influential.