Miller: No City and Presidential Election Alignment
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the Senate might support shifting city elections to the gubernatorial election cycle.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Thursday that the Senate might support efforts to change the timing of city elections provided it met certain requirements.
"If they want to move it to the governor's election we might support that but we're not going to support it if they want to do it at the same time as the presidential elections," said Miller.
Currently, Baltimore city election years fall when there is no presidential or Maryland gubernatorial election.
Miller in the past has raised concerns that allowing the city to hold its elections in an off-year from state elections gives city officials a free shot at state elected officials by allowing the city politicians to for a state seat without giving up their own city offices. On Thursday, Miller expressed different concerns for moving city elections to a presidential year.
"It just doesn't make sense in terms of the timing. The voters and voter turnout aren't the same," Miller said referring to the differences in voters who turn out for gubernatorial and presidential elections.
To adjust the date of Baltimore's next election, city voters must approve a charter amendment, and the General Assembly has to pass legislation allowing a change in the date of the primary elections.
Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector introduced a bill on Monday to put a proposed charter amendment changing the election date to 2016 on the ballot. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has been lobbying the city's General Assembly delegation to support legislation adjusting the date of the primary elections.
Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said Baltimore voters have shown that they prefer local elections held with presidential elections. Last year's mayoral election in an off-year, had a 13 percent turnout. In 2004, when the elections for mayor and president occurred together, there was a 70 percent turnout for mayoral voting, Spector has said.
"We've already shown that we support the move, we should have the opportunity to do so," Brennan said.
Lester Davis, a spokesman for City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, said the council president still supports aligning city elections with presidential elections. Click here to read Young's case laid out in his Local Voices blog.
Davis said the council president supports moving the election for three main reasons—to boost turnout, to save the city money, and to focus voters on issues unique to the city.
"The only cycle that hits on those three three points is the presidential cycle," Davis said.