Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MCDCC: Apply for the Ballot Questions Committee

While I am not the ideal message boy for MCDCC, we are happy to help out MPW friend Marc Korman. He forwarded this notice for our readers.

Apply for the Ballot Questions Committee

The November election is not just about the presidency. A number of important initiatives will be on the ballot on major policy issues. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (on which I represent District 16) is currently assembling a Ballot Questions Committee to consider these issues and recommend a Democratic Party position on them for the fall. Some of the issues are well known to readers of MPW.

If the challenge to the petition signatures fails, the County will have ballot referendum on the transgender non-discrimination law. The County Council approved law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, taxi, and cable service.

In 2006, a state court ruled early voting unconstitutional because the state constitution limits voting to one day a year in a voter’s home district. As a result, the legislature passed a constitutional amendment in 2007 to allow early voting. The electorate now must ratify or reject the amendment. If accepted, the amendment would allow the legislature to establish early voting locations around the state to improve voter access in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Another hot button issue to be decided is the fate of slots in Maryland. During the Special Session, the General Assembly punted to the voters the question of whether slots will be allowed in five locations around the state. Technically, Maryland voters will be ratifying or rejecting a constitutional amendment authorizing legislation to implement gambling.

In addition, the Montgomery County Charter Review Commission is currently considering proposed Charter amendments that may also go on the ballot. The Commission is a bipartisan panel of eleven that recommends charter amendments to the County Council during each election year. Given recent history, it is possible that the Charter Review Commission will forward a Ficker Amendment involving County tax policy.

To get involved in the Ballot Questions Committee, take a look at the requirements set out by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and consider applying:

Volunteers Needed for Ballot Questions Committee

Volunteers are needed for the Ballot Questions Committee. In order to apply, please send a resume and cover letter to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee at or fax it to the Central Committee at 301/946-1002.

Please state that you would like to serve on the Ballot Questions Committee. The deadline to receive the resume is Monday, May 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm.

All candidates will be interviewed before the Central Committee appoints he members of the Ballot Questions Committee. It is one of the goals of the Central Committee to have a Ballot Questions Advisory Committee that is geographically and ideologically balanced.

The County Democratic Party rules require that at least half of the Committee members must be precinct chairs, vice chairs, or area coordinators. The role of the Committee is to review the Ballot Questions and to review certain judicial candidates for the General Election. Please respond as soon as possible.

The estimated time commitment is 40 hours. It is anticipated that the committee will meet once a month from May to September. Additionally, the committee is expected to hold a public hearing in late August.

Once the committee has been appointed, each member of the Committee will be expected to take at least one of the ballot questions, research it thoroughly, and then prepare a one-page write-up setting out the arguments as to why the Party should support a vote "yes", why the Party should support a vote "no", and why the Party should not take a position. After the August public hearing, the committee will make a recommendation on each ballot question.

The Advisory Committee's recommendations (along with the one-page write-up on each of the three possible positions) will be sent out to all of the chartered Democratic Clubs; all of the precinct chairs, vice chairs, and area coordinators; all the members of the County Central Committee; and all of the elected Democratic officials in the county. About 2 weeks after the report is sent out, the Precinct Organization will meet and take its position on each of the questions. Following that meeting, the Central Committee will meet and take its position on each question. Where the Precinct Organization and the Central Committee are in agreement, that will be the position of the County Democratic Party. On any question that the Precinct Organization and the Central Committee are not in agreement, the County Party will be neutral on that ballot question. Since this system was put in place about 10 years ago, the Precinct Organization and the Central Committee have always agreed on the Party's positions on each ballot question.