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For democracy to flourish in “The Free State,” Progressive Maryland believes we must work diligently to protect voters’ rights, maximize voter education and participation, and minimize the domination and corrupting influence of money in our electoral and political processes. To these ends, we focus on the four areas described below with summaries of our progress and achievements to date.
Progressive Maryland works closely with Public Campaign, Common Cause, and other groups to combat the domination of big money corrupting American politics and destroying representative government. PM supports passage of a constitutional amendment to nullify the Supreme Court’s tragic ruling in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (January 21, 2010) and corporations’ bogus legal standing as “persons.”
Voluntary Public Financing of Political Campaigns
A voluntary system of public financing of elections allows qualified candidates to run for office by collecting many small donations and receiving public funds to run their campaigns. It is a powerful alternative to our current system that forces candidates to raise large contributions from wealthy and corporate donors who then typically expect special access and influence. This badly needed reform is already the law in Connecticut, Maine, and Arizona, where it is decreasing the power of wealthy special interests while increasing the power of ordinary voters and small donor participation. Progressive Maryland and allies have succeeded in getting it passed nearly every year it was introduced in the Maryland House, and has come within one vote of passage in the Senate. In 2013, we won a partial victory in the passage of the robust Campaign Finance Act, which enables counties to set up their own public financing systems. PM is committed to both supporting counties to implement this reform and passage of legislation to implement it statewide for state candidates in the near future.
PM works to register voters, especially among working families and historically disenfranchised minorities, encourage participation, and pass legislation to make both voting and registration easier. Our successes include enactment of early voting in 2010 and online voter registration in 2011. In 2013 we helped pass bills that increase the number of early voting centers in certain counties; establish an eight-day early voting period for the 2014 and future elections; expand and clarifies the methods by which voters may request absentee ballots; and allow same-day registration at an early voting centers, bringing thousands more Marylanders into the political process.
Electing Progressive Candidates
Every election Progressive Maryland helps to register voters and inform them about issues, candidates, poll locations and times, and the vital importance of voting. For example in 2010, 86 of 93 candidates PM endorsed and actively supported won election to state, county, and federal office. But our service to voters continues well after each election, as we fight for the interests and needs of working families and represent them with their elected officials in each General Assembly and in Congress. We also help them hold lawmakers accountable by reporting regularly on both their representatives’ responses, votes, and leadership and how each helps or hurts their interests.