State of Maryland Archives: on Government Reform
Disallow legislators from drawing their own district lines
We cannot allow the unethical behavior of the few to tarnish the good will of the many. Help us finally bring the transparency that Marylanders want and deserve by passing the Legislative Transparency Act, which provides for all sessions of the General
Assembly to be livestreamed to the public.
And isn't it time that we finally pass the Redistricting Reform Act so we can remove the politics and the politicians from drawing their own district lines? Free and fair elections are perhaps the most basic
promise that those in power must provide to citizens.
The people of Maryland desperately want--and certainly deserve--balance, fairness, and bipartisanship in our state. An overwhelming majority of all Marylanders all parties and from all walks of
life strongly support this legislation. But last year, this critically important reform legislation was hidden in a drawer. This year, the people deserve to have it come to the floor of both the House and the Senate for an up or down vote.
Source: 2017 State of the State address to Maryland Legislature
Feb 1, 2017
Restore the voting rights of ex-felons
As "one of America's most ardent advocates for democracy" (The Nation 4/20/15) Jamie is a champion of sweeping campaign finance reform, a powerful defender of voting rights, and a passionate critic of Citizens United and the systematic deregulation of
big money in politics. Jamie was a key force in restoring the voting rights of ex-felons, successfully introduced legislation to lower the voter registration age to 16, and steered the nation's first National Popular Vote law to passage.
After Citizens United was handed down, Jamie successfully introduced legislation in Maryland requiring outside spenders to disclose their spending in Maryland races, and he wrote a General Assembly letter to Congress urging a constitutional amendment
to reverse Citizens United. Jamie was the sole academic witness called by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 2014 in favor of the Democrats' constitutional amendment, which every Democrat in Congress then voted to support.
Source: 2016 Maryland House campaign website JamieRaskin.com
Nov 8, 2016
Vetoed restoring voting rights to 40,000 ex-offenders
Virginia is granting more than 200,000 convicted felons the right to vote in the November elections, part of a large-scale effort Gov. Terry McAuliffe says is intended to reverse the state's long history of suppressing the voting rights of
The move echoes a concern in several other states, which have increasingly turned away from harsh criminal sentences and raised new questions about what happens to offenders once they are released, including their ability to
participate fully in society. In Virginia, 1 in 5 African-Americans is disenfranchised, according to the Sentencing Project based in Washington, D.C.
In February, the Maryland State Senate overrode a veto by Republican
Gov. Larry Hogan and expanded voting rights to 40,000 ex-offenders. In that the case, the law actually went further than Virginia's policy by allowing ex-convicts to vote while on parole or probation.
Source: Christian Science Monitor on 2018 Maryland governor race
Apr 22, 2016
Undo restored voting rights to ex-felons
Virginia is granting more than 200,000 convicted felons the right to vote in the November elections, echoing a concern in several other states. In February, the Maryland State Senate overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and expanded voting
rights to 40,000 ex-offenders. The Maryland law went further than Virginia's policy by allowing ex-convicts to vote while on parole or probation.
But the policies have been controversial. Last December, newly elected Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R)
reversed an executive order by his Democratic predecessor to grant voting rights to ex-felons in the state once they had completed their sentences. Governor Bevin framed his opposition to the executive order signed by then-Gov. Steve Beshear (D) on
procedural rather than ideological terms. "While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights, for example, it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people," he said in a statement.
Source: Christian Science Monitor on 2018 Maryland governor race
Apr 22, 2016
Chris Van Hollen:
Do everything we can to make it easier to vote
Rep. Chris Van Hollen urged the Maryland State Board of Elections to reject a decision to replace early voting locations in Burtonsville and Chevy Chase with sites in less-densely populated Brookeville and Potomac.
The decision to change two of the
county's nine early voting sites was made with a 3-2 vote along party lines on the Republican-led county Board of Elections. Many claimed the purpose was to make it harder for Democrats along the Route 29 corridor and Bethesda and Chevy Chase to access
early voting. Van Hollen said the change would "have a major negative impact on the success of early voting in Montgomery County. We should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote. Unfortunately, the current early voting proposal
makes it harder. It will create confusion, undercut early voting and same-day voter registration, and make it harder for low-income and elderly people and people of color to participate in our political process."
Source: Bethesda Magazine on 2016 Maryland Senate race
Sep 25, 2015
Fair Campaign Financing Act for gubernatorial elections
The strength of our democracy rests on a balanced, honest and open political process that challenges convention and encourages progress. The Fair Campaign Financing Act for gubernatorial elections provides this balance and opens discord.
It levels the playing field and holds our elected leaders accountable.
And while many said we would never elect a governor because of the low spending limits mandated in our public finance laws,
I stand before you today as proof that the system does work.
We must replenish this fund as soon as possible and make it available for future candidates.
Therefore, we will submit legislation to reinstate the voluntary check-off which allows a taxpayer to make a donation to go towards the public campaign financing system each year.
Source: State of the State address to 2015 Maryland Legislature
Feb 4, 2015
Voted NO to online voter registration & online voting
HB 224 Amends Voting Procedures
Concurrence Vote Passed House (99 - 40); Rep. Kathy Szeliga voted Nay.
Source: VoteSmart synopsis of 2013-2014 Maryland voting records
Apr 8, 2013
- Authorizes an online voter registration system that allows an individual to become
a registered voter or change his or her name, address, or party affiliation.
- Authorizes a registered voter to request an absentee ballot which can be submitted through the mail, a facsimile transmission, or
the completion of the "online ballot marking tool".
- Defines "online ballot marking tool" as a system that allows a voter to access a blank ballot through the internet, electronically mark the
ballot, print a paper copy, and mail to the a local board.
- Increases the number of early voting centers a county is required to operate.
Public service shouldn't be a life-long career; 2-term limit
Public service is a high calling, but it should not be a life-long career. I will not serve more than two terms in the Senate. And I'll support a limit on the amount of time members of
Congress can serve. Term limits will refresh and restore our democratic foundations, while causing elected officials to live under the same rules they write for others.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, www.sobhaniformaryland.com
Oct 15, 2012
Page last updated: Feb 28, 2017