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December 17, 2012

Further Discussion of City’s Primary Process

Jill King

Efforts to include unaffiliated voters in primary elections has been tossed around by the parties and individuals for some time, due to the extraordinary rise in those who prefer to be deemed "unaffiliated."


The latest attempt comes from Katie Nash, who proposes a semi-closed election primary process in The City of Frederick.


In a workshop, the Board of Alderman discussed this proposal in front of an audience of three and one reporter. 


Primaries were made for recognized parties to have the ability to choose from an abundance of those seeking office to move forward.


Those seeking office, who are not a part of the two larger recognized parties, have an ability to skirt the process and proceed into the general elections without the vetting that comes from participating in a primary election.


The current process is closed. The semi-open would allow unaffiliated voters to go to the election sites and choose which ballot they wish to select from those running, choosing between Democrat and Republican ballots. The election judge would then mark beside their name which ballot was chosen; this would then have to be logged into a site for public record. The voter is then temporarily affiliating, with a party.


At state level they have made the voting and registrations easier, enabling early election sites and registrations online; anyone can change the party affiliation online, prior to the elections and within the time allotted. The City has a one day election for both elections – primary and general. The turnout is also minimal, with about 18% of the registered voters voting in the city primaries.


Frederick City runs its own elections; next year it is without county resources. (Yea!) A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued seeking a vendor to submit bids, for a paper election. The bids are due by Friday (December 21, 2012).


According to the city charter, the two "principle political parties" have an election if they have more than five people seeking office for alderman or more than one running for Mayor. If either has less than this number, the candidates automatically move onto the general race.


A ballot for one party and not the other is possible, as designed. With this situation, or the suggested open primary, it may be difficult to get bids from potential bidders.


Fewer reasons for partisan references are needed locally. Social policies, such as whether one is pro-choice or is seeking social justice, are state issues that have absolutely nothing to do with local elections.


There are a few factors that remain for those who feel that they are being neglected in this process; there are manners in which they can still vote in the primaries, without being dependent on the government to fix the problem.


Is it that these are the ones paying attention, heading to cast their votes, or is it because people just don't want to affiliate? Would we prefer an educated voter, or are we just looking to increase the turnout? Much of this boils down to choices.


Opening up the conversation at local level is important, although educating the public, and doing the legwork, may be necessary for the final vote. In the General Elections, many do reach across party lines to vote for a person who has suggested the best plan. One hot item will always be fiscal prudence. This is one that all will be looking for.


Municipalities have a list of necessities moving forward, including health, safety, and the welfare of its citizens. This includes oversight of police services, trash pick-up, and communities that have ongoing problems.


Some of the colossal issues facing city candidates next year are the barely touched unfunded liabilities and pension system, Carroll Creek, economic plans to increase business, Frederick's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, annexations and future growth, the Frederick Towne Mall area, and property issues, including eminent domain.


The biggest issue will be the implementation of PlanMaryland. If there is little movement or resolution as to what is a necessary function of municipal government, Frederick will be an unsustainable place to live and grow.


Hard choices will need to be made, assuring people that they will be able to remain in their homestead that they have fought for.


In order to get people involved, they need to know their options and start participating. Providing methods to circumvent the rules is only part of the problem.


Either we go into the Frederick City elections with no party denoted or remain as we have been for generations. The methods in between have been tried tirelessly, revealing too many faults. The discussion has been opened again; let's make a choice and remove it from the table forever or until Frederick City has grown exponentially.


On a side note, a new 501c3 has been formed in Frederick City, rightfully named Friends of Carroll Creek. The vision of this group is fundraising and solving community issues, without a lot of government intervention. Kudos to this new group spearheaded by businesses and residents in the Carroll Creek area.


retraining my brain for the future, conferring with the past....


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