Committee for Montgomery
Montgomery County Priorities Hearing
Testimony from Jonathan Sachs, Chair, Issues Committee
November 19, 2014
Senator King, Delegate Kaiser, and Members of the Montgomery County Delegation:
I join you this evening representing the Committee for Montgomery. As you already know, Committee for Montgomery (CFM) is a coalition of leaders representing a broad cross-section of Montgomery County business, labor, education, civic, arts and humanities, and community-based organizations.
Through its membership, CFM represents more than 350,000 Montgomery County residents. CFM supports policies, programs and laws that promote development of our economy and infrastructure, the education and health of our citizens, and increased opportunities for Montgomery County’s 1,000,000 diverse residents.
Committee for Montgomery rules require that 85% of the membership must agree to take a particular stance on a piece of legislation. At our most recent meeting, CFM unanimously agreed to advocate for legislation that would create a Blue-Ribbon Commission to study ways to increase voter participation in elections.
In both the most recent primary and general elections, voter turnout had dropped from previous elections. Despite the increase in population and voter registration, voter turnout has decreased. Many elected officials, political scientists and pundits have opined about ways to better engage voters including changes in primary voting, redistricting reform and campaign finance reform. To find the best fit for Maryland voters, the Committee for Montgomery is supporting legislation to create a Blue Ribbon Commission to review all the options and report back with recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly.
As you can imagine, it can be very difficult to find 85% support from such a diverse group on a particular issue. The unanimous vote from the Committee for Montgomery speaks volumes about how important access to our democracy is for our community. We expect this commission to consider other work that has been done involving election reform such as the Montgomery County Right to Vote Task Force, which issued 59 recommendations to the County Council earlier this year. As for the creation of this commission, Senator Raskin has graciously agreed to work with CfM to sponsor this legislation. We hope that every member of the delegation will sign on as a co-sponsor and help support the effort in any way possible.
Thank you for your attention and congratulations to all of you on your recent elections. Committee for Montgomery looks forward to working with you.