June 26: Putting the MD primary into your life plan

Voting in the June 26 Primary Election as part of your life strategy

We’re going to work through the question of voting and whether it makes a difference in a series of blog posts over the next several weeks, as we get to, and then inside, about 60 days until the June 26 primary election.

Voting in the June 26 Primary Election as part of your life strategy...

We’re going to work through the question of voting and whether it makes a difference in a series of blog posts over the next several weeks, as we get to, and then inside, about 60 days until the June 26 primary election.

First, just to point out: Whether or not to vote is a very personal decision and may be held till the last minute. But the decision is moot unless you are registered to vote.

The deadline to do that in advance of voting in the June 26 Primary – a date that’s not prominently displayed on the state website – is June 5, 2018, by 9 p.m. That’s the statutory 21 days before Primary Election day. Getting that done gives you the space to make up your mind at the last minute. Meaningfully.

If you are not registered, it is not a decision.

(NOTE you can register in person at early voting sites June 14-21)

Now, some of the arguments you will run into in this space over the next two months will be that you should of course vote – that it definitely matters.ballot_box.jpg

Few of us, of whatever political persuasion, could look at the results of the 2016 presidential election and not realize that it matters a lot.

Ex-FBI Director James Comey, in his new book, tells us he was so sure that Hillary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump in November 2016 that he felt comfortable rattling Sec. Clinton’s cage with the announcement that he was re-opening the investigation into her use of a private email server for some State Department business. Arguments about the effect of his decision on the election outcome will continue for years to come.

But Comey was clearly not the only person who felt that way. Lots of voters in Maryland were pretty sure Clinton had it in the bag, at least as far as Maryland’s electoral votes were concerned, and in fact they were right. But that relaxed feeling on the voters’ part likely kind of sandbagged voter turnout. From early election-day estimates as high as 80 percent turnout in Maryland, the state Board of Elections glumly reported actual turnout of 66 percent. “Voter turnout hasn’t been this low in a presidential election year in Maryland in at least 24 years,” the local CBS news reported.

You can see how, in some other more swing-y states like neighboring Pennsylvania, such complacency could have made a big difference.

Voter turnout is, of course, calculated on the percentage of registered voters who actually cast a ballot.

There were 4,239,987 Maryland residents of voting age, as of November 2016. Of those, 3,900.090 were registered at about the same time. Automatic voter registration at the DMV has given the state a pretty good record; a little over 300,000 eligible voters are not registered. Some may have barriers to registration. There may also be members of the military overseas not included in that calculation, or out of state students planning to relocate.

 And those 300,000-plus folks eligible to be registered could, of course, have swung some of the state’s recent elections in a contrary direction all by themselves -- if they were registered to vote.

Add that total to the number of registered voters who stayed home in November 2016. Is there anything they, together, could not accomplish politically if they coupled information with activism?

So – as we at Progressive Maryland keep saying – the amount of untapped political power in Maryland for people-oriented governance and a more just society is huge. Many who could have a role in realizing our dreams are sidelining themselves when they could be breaking barriers and making significant, radical change.

How can we mobilize this power? You can probably guess what our answer will be. But we’ll be detailing it as June 26 gets closer. Meanwhile, we’ll keep exploring the ways you can make sure you get to vote. Stay tuned.