Thursday, December 13, 2007

Legislative Vacancies: Non-Constitutional Reform

There are several measures that can be taken to improve the current vacancy-appointment process while we work for a constitutional amendment. We can’t get a real election without an amendment; we’re stuck with the Central Committee. But the Constitution does not specify how the Central Committee should make its selection. Nothing stops it from adopting internal reforms. The Central Committee is perfectly free to establish a process to determine — and even to bind itself to — the will of the people of the district in question.

I invite comment from my fellow Marylanders on just what these reforms should be. Possibilties include:

  • The Central Committee would be bound to select whichever candidate the district party structure selects. (Yes, this means that District 18 would never have enjoyed having Jane Lawton representing us in Annapolis. In 2005, the Central Committee overruled District 18’s recommendation that Sam Statland replace retiring Del. John Hurson.). The district-level decision could be made:
    • by vote of the precinct chairs and vice-chairs; or
    • in a district-wide caucus open to all party members in the district.

  • The Central Committee would have a free vote, but Central Committee members:
    • would be barred from voting for themselves; or
    • would be barred from running altogether

  • The Central Committee would have a free vote, but members living in the district whose legislator is being selected would have their votes weighed more heavily

I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas out there, too. The more people talk about this, the better ideas we’ll all come up with.