By a 3-2 vote, the Board of Charles County Commissioners approved Bill 2022-08, which amends the Code of Charles County to require district commissioners to be elected by a plurality of votes cast by voters within that district. Additionally, the bill requires candidates to reside in the district they seek to represent for at least 18 consecutive months preceding a general election.
Currently, Charles County has five commissioners, all of whom are elected countywide. Four must reside in each of the four county commissioner districts. The fifth county commissioner, who holds the position of President of the County Commissioners, may live anywhere in the county and is elected by the county at large. Beginning with the 2024 general election, the election of a commissioner to represent a specific district will be decided by a plurality of votes cast within that district.
Maryland counties operate under three forms of government: commission, charter home rule, and code home rule. Six counties operate under the commission form of government, 11 counties operate under charter home rule, and six counties operate under code home rule.
The 12 counties operating under commission and code home rule forms of government elect county commissioners. State law requires the number of county commissioners to be set by the local public laws of each county. Each county also determines whether voters elect commissioners by district or countywide.
In three counties (Carroll, Somerset, and Worcester), commissioners run by district and are elected by the voters residing in that district. In four counties (Allegany, Caroline, Kent, and Washington), commissioners run countywide, not by district. And in Garrett County, commissioners represent specified districts, but the voters elect all commissioners at large.
Four counties (Calvert, Charles, Queen Anne’s, and St. Mary’s) use a hybrid board structure wherein a specified number of county commissioners represent a district, the remaining run countywide, and the voters elect all commissioners at large.