LA PLATA, Md. – Charles County Commissioners met with the Board of County Commissioners from Calvert and St. Mary’s County virtually on Feb. 9 to discuss how some new legislation would change local elections.

Between two bills, the commissioners first discussed Senate Bill 413. Senate Bill 413 is an act concerning the Voting Rights Act of 2022. 

The bill would prohibit the power of imposition for electing the governing body of a county. This in-turn expands the rights of citizens which allows them to win more lawsuits related to last session’s HB 655.

“It takes the rights conferred upon the Federal legislation and expands them and gives Maryland citizens a much broader category of rights that aren’t subject to some of the same restrictions,” St. Mary’s County Assistant County Attorney John Houser said at the meeting.

Then, they discussed the difference between SB 413 and HB 655. HB 655 requires that the election of a county commissioner district must be decided by a plurality of votes cast within the district.

This bill also requires that in counties where the board of education members is elected from each district, the election of a member must be decided by a plurality of votes within that specific district. This bill specifically changes the method of how elected officials get in a position of power.

”HB 655 called for specific changes made to the county commission and how our boards are elected,” Houser said.

Although it seems minor, there is a slight change in verbiage that makes all the difference. The bill states that officials are elected by plurality rather than the majority. 

Plurality voting means that the winning candidate must have more votes than other candidates combined. In a plurality voting system, the leading candidate, whether or not he or she has a majority of votes, is elected.

These bills might be making some serious changes to the electoral system for Southern Maryland counties. They will come back to review this legislation in the future.

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  1. Yes. Imagine an animal popularity contest.

    Dog – 5 votes
    Cat – 4 votes
    Fish – 2 votes

    In majority election rules no one would win because no individual has more than 50% of the vote total of 11. In plurality voting the dog would win because they have more votes than the other contenders.

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