Re: HB655 – Local Government – County Commissioner Elections – District Voting
As a Calvert County Commissioner from District 2 and former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, I urge this honorable committee to pass HB655 as it brings to fruition the principle embodied in the 1964 Supreme Court guidance of “one man one vote”. The Court’s guidance focused then generally on reapportionment and resulted in the convening of the Maryland Constitutional Convention of 1966-1967. HB655 supports that concept today of one person one vote, by ensuring that county commissioner representation is selected by the registered voters of those individual districts in which their representative is required to be a resident.
Calvert County is ideally apportioned to easily fulfill the principle purpose of HB655, which is to me today One Person-One Vote, a concept of a constitutional right. In Calvert there are three Commissioner Districts that already require residency of its commissioners, additionally, there are two at large commissioners. Currently, all are elected by the total registered voters in the county who chose to cast a vote. Thus the citizens who live in a particular Commissioner District, are subject to a dilution of their vote for their respective District Commissioner by the fact that the entire voting population of the county may sway the outcome for a particular candidate. Consequently, this current method may unduly influence the outcome of who may represent the residents in their particular district.
One may proffer that this concept will hurt minority groups that are not concentrated in a given district. Again, in Calvert County no matter the dispersion of a given minority element of the voting population they have the opportunity to vote for the majority of the Board of County Commissioners. With the passage of HB655, they will continue to have the opportunity to vote for two at large candidates and one district candidate. Thus any argument that HB655 will unduly hurt any minority population is simply not true, as everyone will be able to vote for a majority of the Board of County Commissioners.
In closing the committee has an opportunity to finally bring the 1964 Supreme Court Guidance to its rightful conclusion albeit over a half century delayed in Calvert County.
Thank you for indulging my post hearing thoughts. But as a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, my seatmate and mentor was Delegate Buddy Linton who was a Delegate to the Maryland Constitutional Convention of 1967-1968 and imparted to me many points that were discussed there of which the premise of “one man one vote” was obviously the main one emphasized by the Court.
Thomas E. Hutchins
Calvert County Commissioner