The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work on election policy in the 2023 General Assembly.
Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years. MACo routinely advocates against state policies that result in costly or burdensome implementation for local election officials.
In addition to the swearing-in of a new governor, the 445th legislative session kicked off with more relaxed health and safety measures compared to the turbulence of the last few years. This enabled MACo’s policy team to dynamically engage with private-sector stakeholders, legislators, and representatives from all levels of government. Under these more conventional circumstances, MACo’s advocacy led to a plethora of favorable outcomes for its members.
MACo opposed HB 447 – Local Elections – County Commissioner – District Voting; This bill would have mandated the method by which county commissioners are elected to represent specified districts. Counties raised concerns this one-size-fits-all approach would infringe on local autonomy and flexibility in local governance. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo opposed HB 1264 – Election Law – Polling Places at Continuing Care Retirement Communities. This bill would have mandated that local boards of elections establish voting precincts in any continuing care retirement community that requests a separate polling place for its residents. This bill would have mandated county governments implement a new state policy. Counties prefer that local boards of elections retain flexibility and discretion in designating polling places to best serve community needs. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo supported HB 752/SB 860 – State Board of Elections – Procurement Oversight. This bill would have required the State Board of Elections (SBE) to take necessary and appropriate steps to provide transparency and accountability for contracts and procurement decisions to afford ample opportunity for input from local governments and Maryland voters. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo supported SB 864 – Election Reform Act of 2023. This omnibus bill would have provided necessary and timely policy changes to protect public servants charged with ensuring fair, open, and transparent elections by extending criminal penalties for threats against county election administrators. In addition, the bill aimed to protect Maryland’s election system from foreign interference and generally clarified processes and procedures for local boards of elections. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo supported HB 951 – Election Law – Election Officials and Workers – Prohibitions Against Interference and Disclosure of Personal Information. The bill would have This bill provided necessary and timely policy changes to protect public servants charged with ensuring fair, open, and transparent elections by extending criminal penalties for doxing election officials and their families. In addition, the bill sought to allow election officials to petition to protect their personal information if releasing the information seriously threatens the election official or their immediate families. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo supported HB 410 – Election Reform Act of 2023. As introduced, the bill set reasonable parameters to govern changes to polling place locations and protected local boards of elections against dubious, coordinated Public Information Act requests, which can paralyze preparations for primary and general elections. Amendments struck language related to the Public Information Act and added language to alter the date, in 2024, of the statewide primary election and the primary election for municipal offices in Baltimore City so that they are held on the second Tuesday in May instead of the fourth Tuesday in April. The bill passed and awaits the Governor’s signature.
Public Campaign Financing
MACo supported HB 176 – Local Public Campaign Financing – Expansion to Additional Offices. The bill would have expanded the offices for which a county may establish a system of public campaign financing. This legislation properly left the decision for establishing a system of public campaign financing in the hands of the local governments, who are best situated to determine whether such a policy is in their best interest. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.
MACo supported HB 213 – Election Law – Local Public Campaign Financing – Boards of Education. Currently, counties may authorize public campaign financing for elective offices in the executive and legislative branches of county government. This bill would have enabled county governments to offer public campaign financing to candidates seeking to serve as elected members of the county board of education, except for a student member of a county board of education. The bill did not advance in the 2023 session.