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Showing posts with label montgomery county. Show all posts
Showing posts with label montgomery county. Show all posts

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BREAKING: Maryland Senator Karen Montgomery To Step Down // Delegate Craig Zucker Favored for Appointment

Multiple sources confirm that Senator Karen Montgomery (D-14) will resign prior to the start of the 2016 General Assembly session, thereby triggering a vacancy appointment by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

Montgomery, 80, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002 - one of the first persons to represent District 14 within Montgomery County. In 2010 Delegate Montgomery defeated incumbent Senator Rona Kramer in the Democratic primary by just over 100 votes. She was strongly supported in that race by the teachers (MCEA), SEIU, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and Progressive Maryland.

Should the District 14 Senate vacancy materialize, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) will  have 30 days to make a recommendation to Governor Hogan on who should complete the remainder of Senator Montgomery's term.

Many insiders believe Delegate Craig Zucker to be the favorite to fill the vacancy.  Zucker, 40, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee and was recently named the Vice Chair of Capital Budget Subcommittee by Speaker Mike Busch. Prior to his election, Zucker worked for a number of public officials including Senator Bill Bradley, Senator Barbara Boxer and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

If Zucker is appointed to the State Senate, his departure will trigger yet another MCDCC vacancy appointment, and a scramble to fill his Delegate seat. Among the names being mentioned for the potential Delegate vacancy include Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member Chris Bradbury, Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member and Morgan State Professor Pamela Queen, and former Deputy Secretary of State Dr. Rajan Natarajan. Other names are sure to emerge, including past candidates like Jodi Finkelstein and Tom Degonia.

Monday, October 19, 2015

MoCo Republicans Retreat on Voter Suppression Strategy // Board of Elections Chair Will Reinstate Two Early Vote Locations

Maryland Juice previously wrote about a Republican voter suppression strategy in Montgomery County. The new GOP majority on the county Board of Elections (MCBOE) attempted to eliminate two high-performing early vote locations in MoCo and replace them with locations in less densely populated neighborhoods that are (coincidentally) closer to Republicans. But last Thursday, the state Board of Elections (SBOE) rejected the MoCo Republican plan and directed the MCBOE to come up with a new proposal.

Today Montgomery County Council President that MoCo's Republican Board of Elections chair is retreating on his voter suppression plan:
GEORGE LEVENTHAL: County Board of Elections Chair Jim Shalleck called to say the Board will restore both disputed early voting sites (Praisner & Lawton). Mr. Shalleck also said the Board would ask the state for a 10th early voting site in Potomac.



The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee also sent out the following press release:
*******BOE REINSTATES ORIGINAL 9 EARLY VOTING SITES********
Legislature Will Propose Adding One More Center

The Montgomery County Board of Elections (BOE) voted to reinstate 8 of the original early voting centers from the 2014 election and the Wheaton Firehouse to replace the Wheaton Community Center, which is undergoing rennovation. This includes the Praisner and Lawton centers advocated by the MCDCC, County Council, and State Legislators, as well as numerous community members and non-partisan community groups. The decision means that they will submit the 9 centers to the State BOE for approval at their special meeting on Friday October 23.
 
A critical part of this decision is that the MCDCC and State Delegation made a commitment to submit legislation at the beginning of the Legislative Session in January to add a 10th early voting center in Montgomery County for the 2016 election. The County Council also made a commitment to establish a 10th early voting center.
 
Although the decision by the Board today will not be final until it is approved by the State BOE, voters in Montgomery County should be pleased with the outcome.
 
We will be in touch after the State BOE meeting on Friday to report on the final decision.
 
Darrell Anderson
MCDCC Chair

SAVE DATE: WED 10/28 MoCo Young Dems Hosting Republican Debate-Watching Party w/ Comedians // GOP Clown Car Show!

Need a few laughs next week? The Montgomery County Young Democrats are hosting a Republican Debate-watching party next Wednesday, October 28th in Silver Spring (details below). They'll have comedians on hand to skewer Donald Trump and the GOP Clown Car gang, including Lee Camp, Chelsea Shorte, and Brian Parise.

$10 tickets are available at:



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

GOP War on Voting Comes to MoCo // MD Board of Elections to Vote OCT 15 on Ending Early Voting Sites: Here's the Process

Here we go again.... Four months after Governor Larry Hogan a bill to restore voting rights to 40,000 people returning to society from prison, the Maryland GOP is back at it. (MCBOE) to replace two of nine high-performing early voting sites with less populated polling locations closer to Republicans (excerpt below, emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON POST: The Republican majority on the Montgomery County Board of Elections, led by an appointee of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), voted Monday to shift two heavily used early-voting sites to less populous locations, prompting Democratic charges­ of voter suppression. 
The board voted 3 to 2 to move early voting from the Marilyn Praisner Community Center in Burtonsville, which serves high-poverty East County communities along U.S. 29, to the Longwood Community Recreation Center in Brookeville, 13 miles to the northwest. The panel also shifted early balloting from the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase, about a half-mile from the Bethesda Metro station, to the Potomac Community Recreation Center, on Falls Road, 10 miles to the northwest....

THE PROCESS: WHAT HAPPENED & WHAT COMES NEXT: Notably, the party of the Governor (now a Republican) gets to appoint members to county boards of election. :
  • Jim Shalleck, President - Republican
  • Nahid Khozeimeh, Vice President - Republican
  • Mary Ann Keeffe, Secretary - Democrat
  • Alexander Vincent, Board Member - Republican
  • David Naimon, Board Member - Democrat

Notably, Jim Shalleck was the 2014 Republican candidate for Montgomery County Executive and formerly chaired the MoCo Republican Party. After listening to public testimony on Montgomery County's early vote locations, the MCBOE took a partly line vote (3-2) to close two early voting centers and replace them with locations closer to Republicans. The Montgomery County Republicans' proposal now heads to the five-member State Board of Elections (SBOE) for a final vote on October 15th. Notably the SBOE also now has a Republican majority, but one more person has to weigh in before this vote occurs: Linda Lamone, the State Administrator of the Board of Elections. Code of Maryland Regulation states (excerpt below):
MARYLAND CODE: Upon receipt of a form for a proposed early voting center, the State Administrator shall review and make a recommendation to the State Board as to whether to accept or reject the proposed early voting center....
Lamone could base a recommendation against the GOP's early voting proposal based on criteria listed in state regulations, including provisions that polling locations be "served by public transportation and roads" and have "parking facilities sufficient for early voting." Notably Lamone has served as Maryland's State Administrator since Governor Paris Glendening and previously foiled an attempt by Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich to remove her from her position.

The provision that sites be "served by public transportation" could be problematic for the Republicans' proposal to close the Burtonsville site and replace it with one at the Longwood Community Recreation Center in Brookeville. Only one bus route serves the Brookeville site (, and the bus only runs in the morning and evening on weekdays. Meanwhile, early voting is open all day.

If Lamone were to recommend against the early voting changes, it would take a super-majority of the SBOE to approve the Montgomery County Republicans' proposal. And if all else fails in stopping the Republican voter suppression effort, there is one final backstop: A few state legislators representing Montgomery County are contemplating legislation to increase the county's number of early voting sites from nine to eleven, using the two additional sites to restore polling locations in Chevy Chase and Burtonsville. (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) said Wednesday that when the general Assembly reconvenes in January, he and Del. Eric Luedtke (D-Montgomery) will introduce a measure to expand the number of early voting sites in the county from nine to 11. The bill would restore the Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville and the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase to the list while retaining the two new sites selected by the board, Longwood Community Recreation Center in Brookeville and Potomac Community Recreation Center in Potomac....

[GOP MCBOE Chair] Shalleck said his only goal was to improve the “geographic diversity” of the sites, creating access to early voting for communities that have had none. But County Council staff have raised questions about whether the Longwood site meets all the Maryland criteria for early voting centers, specifically access to public transportation. [County Counicilmember Nancy] Navarro said the measure sponsored by Madaleno and Leudtke was “ a great idea. I’m really hoping this could be a fix,” she said....


 

VIDEO OF GOP BOARD OF ELECTIONS MEMBERS DISCUSSING THE CHANGES: In response to the controversy, Montgomery County Councilmembers held a public hearing to question the county Board of Elections (MCBOE) about the motivation for these changes. In the video clip below (posted by Councilmember Tom Hucker) you can see the recently appointed Republican Chair of the MCBOE Jim Shalleck admit that:
  1. Replacing the Burtonsville and Chevy Chase early voting sites with ones closer to Republicans would mean fewer voters live close to an early vote polling location
  2. Not a single person who testified at a public hearing about polling locations called for closing the Burtonsville or Chevy Chase polling locations
  3. Not a single person testified in favor of the proposed new sites in the less densely populated neighborhoods
  4. Republican members of the MCBOE held private calls with Republican Party leaders about changing the early voting sites


Let’s break the Republicans' decision down:

IMPACT OF THE GOP'S PROPOSED EARLY VOTING CHANGES: The move by the GOP Board to "expand the geographic reach of early voting" may seem innocuous, but is hard to see as anything but a partisan move -- instead of one based on fair and efficient election administration. points out that Chevy Chase's Lawton Community Center is the only western down-county early voting site within walking distance of a Metro station. The Republicans are proposing to close this polling location and open a new one in a far-less populated area in Potomac that is not Metro-accessible.

But what is most suspect about the GOP’s proposal is how it moves early voting away from the high concentration of minority voters in East County. You can visualize what the impact of this change by using the from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. The black star on the map below is the current Burtonsville early voting center. The shading around the star represents the concentration of minority voters:

Borders reflect approximately 5 mile radius from Praisner Center

The same voter suppression in Burtonsville holds true for lower-income voters. The following map was created using the developed by RTI International. Again, the star represents the Burtonsville early voting site, and the shading near the site represents lower income voters:



Unsurprisingly, these voters tend to vote . By comparison, the precincts around the Republicans proposed new site in Brookeville are among the handful of areas that Governor Hogan won in Montgomery County in 2014. The black star below represents the GOP's proposed new site in Brookeville, and the shading around the star represents the concentration of the Republican vote:



Thousands of low-income minority and Democratic-leaning voters will now be over 10 miles away from the nearest early voting center. But in Maryland show that the closer you are to an early voting site, the more likely you are to use it.

WHY THIS MATTERS IN 2016: Early voting use has surged ()  but its impact on turnout . Should we care then about these changes to early voting, especially when our friends across the aisle portend ?

One big reason is a new Maryland law taking effect that allows same day voter registration. Starting in 2016, Maryland residents can register to vote and cast a ballot at any early voting center for 8 days. According to , same-day registration would increase overall turnout especially among young adults, voters of color and low-income families. Research even suggests  that voter turnout is when same day registration is coupled with early voting. Moving early voter centers away from the voters most likely to benefit from same day registration? This is surely not the intention of the GOP....

BUT IT COULD’VE BEEN WORSE (HA): Facing perhaps unexpected pressure from the press and elected officials to fully explain their rationale for the early voting changes  -- Republican MCBOE Chair Jim Shalleck warned (transcript below, emphasis mine):
JIM SHALLECK: If we wanted to be political we could’ve cut Silver Spring and Wheaton - the two most heavily Democratic voting sites. But we didn’t.
The Republican Chairman's defense boils down to the fact that they could've suppressed even more voters than they did.  Beyond that Mr. Shalleck’s friends in the Montgomery County GOP put out a near incoherent of support spreading falsehoods - asserting that the Praisner site is “heavily used by residents of PG County” () or that Republicans are “making the early voting process more convenient” ().

EARLY VOTING WORKS WELL FOR MINORITIES AND LOW-INCOME VOTERS: The Washington Post’s about why early voting is important to minorities and low-income voters (excerpt below, emphasis mine)
WASHINGTON POST: Early voting is intimately bound up in race, not simply because minorities are more likely to take advantage of it, but because the policy itself addresses systemic barriers they face. When we decide to vote, we're not simply making a calculation about whether we like the candidates, or care about the issues at stake, or value the abstract idea of democracy. We also have to make calculations about how to get to the polls, whether we can spare the time to go there, and who will watch the kids while we're gone. 
These costs associated with voting — in lost pay, in childcare, in transit fares — are higher for minorities and the poor. Which is why they are among the largest beneficiaries of early, flexible voting.

Act now to stop the Maryland Republicans' voter suppression efforts:



Monday, October 27, 2014

GUEST POST: Warning from Former MoCo Planning Board Chair Gus Bauman on the MD vs. VA Transportation Battle

Former Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Gus Bauman provided Maryland Juice the following guest post on the transportation infrastructure race between Maryland and Virginia. His comments below were sent in two batches to County officials (once in 2009 and later in 2014). You can read his thoughts on the challenges facing Maryland below, triggered by the opening of the Northern Virginia WMATA Silver Line this past July:
GUS BAUMAN (CIRCA 2014): To the County Executive, Council Members, Planning Board Members: Tomorrow, July 26, 2014, at high noon, Montgomery County’s future will, in my judgment, have reached a tipping point. The Silver Line’s first phase to Tysons and Reston opens; five new Metro stations in prime areas of Fairfax County will change everything. Then it’s on to Dulles Airport.

Recently, DC opened a new Metro station at NoMa. Development is exploding there. Alexandria, for its part, is nailing down the location of its new Metro station at the growing urban center of Potomac Yard. In short, as I see it, the economic future of our region is increasingly concentrating along the Blue and Orange and now Silver Lines. The cultural vibrancy of the DC area is rapidly consolidating around places like U St., 14th St., Ballston, Clarendon. Tysons and Potomac Yard will invariably follow.

We must be candid with ourselves. Except for Silver Spring, Montgomery County has no place today that can realistically compete for the attentions and diverse demands of the all-important Uber Generation. I sent off a warning, called A Looming Challenge, about all this 4.5 years ago (see the attachment). We are now 4.5 years closer to our mutual future.
Gus Bauman's 2014 comments are a follow-up to the following letter (aka attachment) he sent county officials in 2009:
GUS BAUMAN (CIRCA 2009): Dear County Executive Leggett, County Council President Floreen and Council Members, Planning Board Chairman Hanson and Planning Board Members; In recent days, I have had the opportunity to tour several major transportation projects being built in the DC region and to review materials related to the forthcoming impacts of those projects. I have come to the conviction that the cumulative impacts of these projects are about to transform profoundly how people will view the DC region and, by extension, Montgomery County's place in it. Because of the geographic positioning of these projects and the singular timing of their arrival, how Montgomery County views its future may well need reassessment.

Consider the following.

Immediately to Montgomery County's west, in Fairfax County, Metrorail's Silver Line is well under construction. In 2013, a little over three years from now, four stations will open in Tysons Corner alone. That is akin to the Gallery Place, Metro Center, Farragut North, and Dupont Circle Red Line stations all opening at once. Simultaneously, the Capital Beltway HOT lanes are well under construction along a 14 mile corridor, centered on Tysons Corner, in northern Virginia. They are scheduled to open in 2012. Tysons Corner is then poised to commence massive redevelopment of its 3,200 acres.

To provide some sense of equivalent comparisons, downtown Bethesda covers 400 acres. The Life Sciences Center encompasses 900 acres. Immediately to Montgomery County's east, in Prince George's County, sits the future city of Konterra. It is ready to begin development once the Intercounty Connector (MD 200) interchanges with I-95. That will occur in 2012. Konterra covers 2,200 acres. Its ultimate scale will be enormous. Thus, just when we will likely have emerged from the Great Recession, the landscape we have been used to for so long will be radically changing on Montgomery County's western and eastern borders. Even before this coming upheaval in the region, looking at just one indicator of the long-current status quo should give one pause in Montgomery County. Already, of the 20 busiest Metrorail stations, fully 18 are in DC, Arlington County, and Fairfax County. Shady Grove is the 14th busiest and Silver Spring the 15th (Bethesda is the 21st). Once the Silver Line starts service in 2013 (and later continues westward to Dulles Airport), a more pronounced shift of the region's economic resources away from Montgomery County can reasonably be expected if current assumptions are not reexamined. And Konterra will likewise be pulling significant economic resources eastward.

Nothing I have stated is to begrudge our neighbors the creative initiatives they have embarked upon. It is all to their credit. But these huge initiatives, centered on imminent alterations to the region's transportation network west and east of Montgomery County, will likely shift the dynamic of growth, and life, within the County as well as the region. Of course, Montgomery County is not standing still. It also stands to gain from MD 200's interchange with I-270 as well as the County's plans for the I-270/MD 355 corridor.

Yet, I would respectfully suggest that the County's future-thinking needs to focus more on Montgomery's realworld position in a highly competitive region about to change dramatically on our borders. The looming challenge now posed by what is just around the corner should not be permitted to sap Montgomery County's viability within a strong region.
Mr. Bauman's comments mirror Maryland Juice's own worries about Virginia's significant investments in transit infrastructure in recent months.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TURNOUT ANALYSIS: What's Really Going On? // Maryland Juice Dissects Voter Turnout in the June 2014 Primary Elections

UPDATEWhen I first went live with the post below, I didn't have complete numbers of independent voters in each Maryland county. We've now updated the post with these figures (Hat-tip to Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick for pointing us in the right direction), along with an explanation of how counties without nonpartisan primaries have inflated turnout percentages. I've also added some information on counties where independent voters are outpacing Republicans. Scroll down for these updates below.

THE FUTURE OF MARYLAND JUICE: Alrighty folks, after months of absence, Maryland Juice is back in action! Before I kick-off a lengthy article about voter turnout in Maryland, I thought I'd take a second to discuss some changes that this blog will be pursuing in the coming months.

In case you haven't heard, I won my Democratic Primary election for the House of Delegates, and that means that by the time the legislative session starts in January 2015, I'll have to step back from my writing duties. But not to worry -- over the course of the next few months, I hope to introduce a new set of writers who will keep the Juice torch and information pipeline burning into the future. In 2015, I  may still write an article here or there, but likely not with the vigor and frequency you've become accustomed to (for various obvious reasons). In any case, keep your eyes open as we roll out new Juicers in 2014! Now onto my first article in over three months....

MARYLAND JUICE 2014 PRIMARY ELECTION TURNOUT ANALYSIS - Numerous political pundits have fretted about Maryland's declining voter turnout, especially in Democratic strongholds like Montgomery County. (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: There’s been much opining among Montgomery’s elected officials about the anemic primary turnout last month, when just 16 percent of registered voters came to the polls. They cited, among other factors, the inconvenience of the new June 24 election date, the lack of urgent issues, and a less-than compelling primary race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination at the top of the ballot....
Turque's article was triggered by (excerpt below):
CENTER MARYLAND: At presidential election time, voter turnout in Montgomery County is pretty decent: Almost three-quarters of enrolled voters showed up at the polls on Election Day 2012 to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney....  But when it comes to acting locally, when it comes to selecting their leaders at the state and county levels, Montgomery County residents fail miserably.

In the recent statewide primary, just 16 percent of registered voters in Montgomery County bothered to vote. Sixteen percent!.... That’s lower voter turnout than in Garrett County (27 percent), where cousins marry, or in Somerset County (24 percent), where the raging issue is chicken waste, or in Baltimore city (22 percent), where they’re selling drugs on every street corner, or in Prince George’s County (18 percent), where every public official has a palm extended.....
But to accurately build a solution to the problem of "low turnout," it helps to understand what's really going on.  Indeed, rushed analyses have led some to hastily conclude that recent voting reforms like early voting were "unsuccessful" and that we are in some sort of existential crisis in Maryland with respect to civic engagement. However, many variables impacting voter turnout (eg: demographic changes, resident turnover, and the national mood) are out of state and local policymakers' control. Below are a few points to consider about turnout trends in Maryland and Montgomery County.

RAW DEMOCRATIC PARTY ELECTION DAY TURNOUT BY COUNTY: First, not all voters are the same. Turnout in Maryland varied wildly depending on your party registration, and all is not what it seems. In terms of raw Democratic Party turnout, simply more Democrats from Montgomery County voted at the polls on election day than Democrats from any other county:

COUNTY PARTY PRIMARY TURNOUT
Montgomery DEM 68,179
Prince George's DEM 64,982
Baltimore County DEM 59,980
Baltimore City DEM 51,730
Anne Arundel DEM 24,655
Howard DEM 19,193
Charles DEM 12,314
Harford DEM 11,795
Frederick DEM 11,201
Carroll DEM 6,306
Calvert DEM 4,451
Washington DEM 4,433
Saint Mary's DEM 4,023
Cecil DEM 3,508
Wicomico DEM 3,349
Allegany DEM 2,748
Queen Anne's DEM 2,303
Worcester DEM 2,173
Dorchester DEM 1,952
Talbot DEM 1,888
Kent DEM 1,299
Caroline DEM 1,018
Somerset DEM 919
Garrett DEM 790

If you include early voters, Montgomery County was second place in Maryland for raw Democratic turnout - Prince George's was first, Baltimore County was third, and Baltimore City was fourth.

% OF ELIGIBLE DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT BY PARTY - One caveat to MoCo's large Democratic turnout should be noted. Even though more MoCo Dems turned out than Dems around the state, Montgomery County's turnout ranking does indeed drop when looking at the percentage of eligible Democrats who participated (as opposed to the absolute number of Democrats who voted).

But even still, in terms of the percentage of Democrats turning out for the primary election, Montgomery County was in a respectable 8th place out of 24 counties (including early voters). Of the large jurisdictions, only Baltimore County Democrats turned out at a rate higher than Montgomery. Prince George's was in 14th place, and Baltimore City was in 17th place:

COUNTY PARTY TURNOUT_TOTAL
Kent DEM 30.22%
Queen Anne's DEM 28.68%
Howard DEM 27.77%
Talbot DEM 26.94%
Baltimore County DEM 26.51%
Charles DEM 26.18%
Frederick DEM 25.05%
Montgomery DEM 23.90%
Harford DEM 23.77%
Carroll DEM 23.55%
Calvert DEM 23.08%
Dorchester DEM 22.90%
Anne Arundel DEM 22.85%
Baltimore City DEM 22.75%
Garrett DEM 20.79%
Allegany DEM 19.90%
Prince George's DEM 19.46%
Cecil DEM 19.02%
Saint Mary's DEM 18.96%
Worcester DEM 18.49%
Caroline DEM 18.44%
Somerset DEM 17.70%
Wicomico DEM 16.82%
Washington DEM 15.80%


MOCO'S POPULATION SURGE DISTORTS ITS TURNOUT PERCENTAGES: In other words, MoCo's sheer size of population means that we have among the most Democrats who vote in Maryland, but we also have a large number of MoCo Democrats who do not vote, thereby bringing down Montgomery County's turnout percentages. Why might this be?

where he delved into some of these turnout dynamics. One of the facts he pointed out is that Montgomery County has had a huge surge in Democratic voter registrations over the last 14 years. Based on his graph below, MoCo had about 230,000 Democrats in 2000 compared with about 355,000 in 2014:



NUMBER OF MOCO DEMOCRATS VOTING BASICALLY UNCHANGED IN OVER 2 DECADES - MoCo Democrats have basically voted in equal numbers over the last couple decades, even while our turnout rate has dropped. How can that be? Some historical Democratic turnout numbers provided by Jonathan Shurberg provide some insight.

Here is one telling comparison. In 1990, roughly 86,000 MoCo Democrats voted out of 195,000. In 2014, roughly 84,000 MoCo Democrats voted. So the raw turnout is almost the same, but today there are 354,000 Democrats on the rolls in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Democratic Turnout (Gubernatorial Primary Years)
  • 1990: 86,167 turnout out of 195,523 registered Dems (44.07%)
  • 1994: 89,452 turnout out of 217,007 registered Dems (41.22%)
  • 1998: 75,485 turnout out of 227,863 registered Dems (33.13%)
  • 2002: 110,518 turnout out of 246,779 registered Dems (44.78%)
  • 2006: 108,337 turnout out of 271,008 registered Dems (39.98%)
  • 2010: 83,827 turnout out of 321,759 registered Dems (26.05%)
  • 2014: 84,622 turnout out of 354,078 registered Dems (23.90%)
It is worth noting that the two election cycles with unusually high turnout for MoCo Democrats both occurred during the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era (2002-2006). Extrapolate what you will from that data point.

A PROBLEM FOR THE NEW MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE - What all of this tells me is that as MoCo's population has surged over the last couple decades, we have likely failed to engage all of the new Democratic registrants that have chosen to reside here.  MoCo's Democratic turnout stayed the same over 24 years even though we added over 150,000 new Democrats to the voter rolls (almost twice as many as vote in Primaries).

Indeed, the vast majority of candidates seeking office in Montgomery County (and everywhere else) spend most of their resources contacting voters with a demonstrated history of voting in Democratic Primaries (aka the decisive elections). As a result, save for the occasional nonprofit voter mobilization drive, there is really nobody trying to pump primary turnout by engaging new registrants and less likely voters in primaries. This seems like a challenge for MoCo's new Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) to tackle. After all, we are living in a new world in Maryland politics, where literally zero Republicans hold elected office in Montgomery County. It seems sensible that the MCDCC should shift its activities to meet the evolving needs of our county's politics.


SO WHY DOES MOCO HAVE THE OVERALL LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT RATE IN MARYLAND? - Okay, so now that we've got the Democratic turnout analysis out of the way, it still remains true that MoCo had terrible turnout when looking at voters from all parties. When you look at turnout figures from voters of all parties and unaffiliated voters, Montgomery County had the lowest turnout percentage in all of Maryland but we still had the second highest number of actual voters in the state this year. See these tables of overall voter turnout from all parties below:

MARYLAND COUNTIES - % OF ELIGIBLE VOTER TURNOUT  (ALL PARTIES)
  1. Talbot - 35.22%
  2. Kent - 30.60%
  3. Dorchester - 29.00% 
  4. Queen Anne's - 28.33%
  5. Garrett - 26.62%
  6. Baltimore County - 24.68% 
  7. Carroll - 24.53%
  8. Somerset - 24.43%
  9. Anne Arundel - 24.25%
  10. Caroline - 24.19%
  11. Cecil - 23.60%
  12. Frederick - 23.34%
  13. Baltimore City - 21.65%
  14. Charles - 21.47%
  15. Harford - 21.26%
  16. Wicomico - 20.24%
  17. Worcester - 20.21%
  18. Allegany - 19.95%
  19. Calvert - 19.24%
  20. Prince George's - 18.00%
  21. Saint Mary's - 16.77%
  22. Washington - 16.54%
  23. Montgomery - 16.34%

MARYLAND COUNTIES - RAW VOTER TURNOUT  (ALL PARTIES)
  1. Baltimore County - 105,171
  2. Montgomery - 103,000
  3. Prince George's - 91,782
  4. Baltimore City - 70,508
  5. Anne Arundel - 65,396
  6. Howard - 38,946
  7. Frederick - 34,872
  8. Harford - 33,773
  9. Carroll - 28,049
  10. Charles - 21,441
  11. Washington - 14,765
  12. Calvert - 11,571
  13. Cecil - 11,258
  14. Saint Mary's - 10,773
  15. Wicomico - 9,495
  16. Queen Anne's - 9,297
  17. Allegany - 8,460
  18. Talbot - 7,714
  19. Worcester - 6,424
  20. Dorchester - 5,138
  21. Garrett - 5,102
  22. Caroline - 3,625
  23. Kent - 3,257
  24. Somerset - 2,803

UPDATED: UNAFFILIATED VOTERS DRIVE DOWN TOTAL TURNOUT PERCENTAGES - Maryland Juice would point readers to some fairly obvious facts that may explain why MoCo had overall turnout of 16%, even while MoCo Democrats turned out at nearly 24%. First, Montgomery County now has 147,000 voters who are not registered with any party. Since Maryland Democrats and Republicans have closed primaries (meaning only registered party members can vote), independent voters have very little reason to turnout for primary elections. Indeed, in MoCo only 2.59% of unaffiliated voters participated in the June 2014 primary election.

Moreover, as Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick pointed out to me, multiple counties have no races where independents are eligible to vote in primaries. Montgomery County, for example, has nonpartisan school board races, while other counties do not. As a result, counties without nonpartisan races will appear to have higher voter turnout percentages than the rest (where anemic turnout from independents drags down the countywide participation rates). The counties without nonpartisan primaries are: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Somerset, and Wicomico.

What's more, MoCo has a much larger number of independent voters than many other Democratic strongholds, according to the Board of Elections stats as of May 2014. Indeed, there are now more MoCo independents (147,904) than Republicans (122,349). Below you can see the numbers of :

MARYLAND REGISTERED INDEPENDENTS BY COUNTY
  1. Montgomery - 147,904
  2. Baltimore County - 83,015
  3. Anne Arundel - 74,718
  4. Prince George's - 60,039
  5. Baltimore City - 46,313
  6. Howard - 43,623
  7. Frederick - 33,625
  8. Harford - 30,505
  9. Carroll - 21,560
  10. Washington - 17,854
  11. Charles - 16,399
  12. Cecil - 13,249
  13. Saint Mary's - 12,767
  14. Calvert - 12,012
  15. Wicomico - 10,342
  16. Worcester - 6,545
  17. Allegany - 6,428
  18. Queen Anne's - 5,906
  19. Talbot - 4,451
  20. Caroline - 3,427
  21. Dorchester - 2,715
  22. Garrett - 2,311
  23. Kent - 1,918
  24. Somerset - 1,718
It should be obvious that if Montgomery County has significantly more independent voters than other counties, and these voters cannot vote in most races in primary elections, these voters will not turnout (as demonstrated by their 2.59% turnout rate). This clearly drags down MoCo's statewide ranking for voter turnout.


VOTER TURNOUT AND REGISTRATION DECLINES SPELL TROUBLE FOR THE MARYLAND GOP - But more importantly, these numbers raise the question about who these independent voters are. Are they disaffected Republicans (aka would-be moderate Republicans who have no home in today's Republican Party)? It is stunning that indies outnumber the GOP in Montgomery County, but then again the era of moderate Republican officials like Connie Morella is now long-gone, mirroring a national trend of partisan realignment.

That the Maryland GOP cannot energize its voters in the vote-rich Democratic strongholds is not a theory, it is fact. Look at the percentage of Maryland Republicans who voted in the June Primaries:

MARYLAND REPUBLICAN TURNOUT BY COUNTY

County Party Turnout
Talbot REP 44.06%
Dorchester REP 37.76%
Queen Anne's REP 37.46%
Somerset REP 34.00%
Garrett REP 33.53%
Carroll REP 32.80%
Frederick REP 31.84%
Kent REP 31.09%
Caroline REP 29.43%
Cecil REP 27.93%
Harford REP 26.15%
Anne Arundel REP 25.92%
Allegany REP 25.57%
Wicomico REP 24.50%
Worcester REP 24.46%
Calvert REP 23.51%
Washington REP 23.46%
Saint Mary's REP 21.93%
Baltimore County REP 20.55%
Charles REP 20.43%
Howard REP 19.22%
Montgomery REP 11.74%
Prince George's REP 11.23%
Baltimore City REP 11.00%

UPDATED: THE MARYLAND GOP IS A REGIONAL PARTY - In places like Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore City, barely 1 in 10 registered Republicans decided to participate in contested Republican Primary Elections. Furthermore, in all three of those jurisdictions, independents outnumber Republicans:
  • Montgomery - 147,904 independents vs. 122,349 Republican
  • Baltimore City - 46,313 independents vs. 30,325 Republicans
  • Prince George's - 60,039 independents vs. 43,636 Republicans
Interestingly, in democratic-trending Howard County, independents are beginning to approach the same strength as the GOP. This does not bode well for the strength of the Republican electorate in the long-term:
  • Howard - 46,623 independents vs. 56,696 Republicans
Given what a large share of votes these counties represent, it seems clear that the Maryland GOP continues on the path of becoming a regional party. But these anemic GOP turnout levels are making us all look bad, since they bring down the overall turnout percentages for our counties.

The obvious solution for the Maryland GOP is to hold open primaries and allow independents to vote -- especially since indies now outnumber MoCo Republicans. But I'm not holding my breath for that.


PRIMARY TURNOUT IS DECLINING NATIONALLY - In the meantime, I would add just one more piece of data for folks to consider. And that is that the hand-wringing over low voter turnout is nothing unique to Maryland. It is happening nationally.  across the nation (courtesy of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate):



So take a deep breath, folks. There is much more going on with voter turnout both nationally, regionally, and locally than has really been discussed in many of the news articles I've read recently. I'll be back with a JuiceBlender before too long.  Thanks for sticking around!




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