In the City Council, we are pursuing a set of subtle reforms but also creating a framework over all the city changes being proposed – which is a resolution calling for a ‘right to vote’ and for changes at the federal level that will make our elections more representative. I support this resolution (pg. 29 here) that calls for all elected officials to take action to increase voter turnout and participation, and to make efforts to level the playing field among candidates for office. For example, we encourage the State of Maryland to think about adopting our system of instant runoff voting. We encourage Congress to support a right to vote. Indeed, our State Senator Jamie Raskin has called for a Constitutional amendment affirming the right to vote.
The creation of a temporary Task Force on Voting (page 28 here) in conjunction with some new activities for the city’s Election Commission are meant to keep up momentum on issues of elections and participation that continue work to improve city elections. The Task Force would evaluate and make recommendations on practical changes in city laws, regulations or practices that would improve participation and better uphold voting rights. For example, the City of Rockville just had a task force that finished its work on similar ideas – they recommended the City of Rockville move its elections to match state/federal ones, create four year terms of office, have a council as big as Takoma Park’s, and make recommendations on weekend voting, early voting and voting by mail.
Changes to our elections don’t have to be disruptive or difficult – Takoma Park has a long history of thinking about these issues and acting to improve participation in democracy. I believe this framework, call for national and state action and Task Force are helpful steps to keep making progress in that direction.