Photo by aka_lusi on Flickr.

This election, Maryland voters face several ballot questions, ranging from civil rights to gambling. These are important issues which will have consequences for the quality of life far beyond Election Day.

Greater Greater Washington recommends Maryland voters support questions 3 (removing elected officials), 4 (Dream Act), and 6 (same-sex marriage), and reject the legislature’s redistricting plan by voting against question 5.

We did not consider questions 1 or 2, which would require judges serving on the Orphans’ Court in Prince George’s (question 1) and Baltimore County (question 2) to be members of the Maryland Bar in good standing. We are also not endorsing a position on question 7 (gambling expansion) because our contributors were divided on the issue.

Question 3 (removing elected officials): We recommend voting FOR Question 3. 

This question will amend the Maryland Constitution to make it easier to remove elected officials from office once they’ve been convicted of or plead guilty to certain crimes.

Two recent cases involving officials have resulted in situations that hurt government and left some residents without representation. When Leslie Johnson was convicted on corruption charges in Prince George’s, she refused to resign, and Maryland’s laws only allowed her ouster upon sentencing. For several months, her council district in Prince George’s was effectively without representation.

This change may not stop corruption. But it will make it easier to recover when an elected official does wrong.

Question 4 (Dream Act): We recommend voting FOR Question 4.

Education is a fundamental building block of our democracy. Allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought as children to the United States to attend state universities as residents will create more opportunities for these young people to join our society.

The Dream Act will allow those undocumented immigrants who grow up in Maryland to attend a state university at the in-state tuition rate if they get good grades in high school and spend 2 years in a community college. Opening up this opportunity for our neighbors will grow the Maryland economy and will open up new paths for immigrants who had no say in where they grew up.

Question 5 (redistricting): We recommend voting AGAINST Question 5.

Marylanders are being asked to approve or disapprove a Congressional redistricting proposal. The legislative maps drawn by the Maryland legislature are horribly gerrymandered. For proof, take a look at Maryland’s 3rd District, which Comedy Central named the “ugliest congressional district in the nation.”

Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. Map from the Maryland Department of Planning.

The authors of this map create what would likely be a new Democratic seat by drawing oddly-shaped districts to divide more conservative voters. This kind of gerrymandering is bad when Republicans do it, and it’s bad when Democrats do it.

To make matters worse, it also splits minority groups, making it harder for them to participate effectively in the democratic process. It splits communities, so that members of a single community have multiple disparate representatives who also serve voters of very distant communities with very different needs.

Question 6 (same-sex marriage): We strongly urge you to support marriage for all families by voting FOR Question 6.

In the legislative session earlier this year, the General Assembly courageously passed a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Free State. While we oppose the idea that civil rights should be subject to a popular vote, opponents of gay marriage gathered enough signatures to put this issue on the ballot.

Gay couples deserve the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Maryland’s expansion of marriage equality will not affect religious institutions, because protections were specifically written into the bill. Equality will mean stronger homes and stronger families for the 17,000 same-sex couples living in the state.

A vote upholding the law will also send a message to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens in the state that they are full members of society, too. Their fellow citizens support them and their right to love whomever they want.

Maryland’s LGBT families share the same values as the straight couples in the state. They deserve the same legal recognition of their relationships from the state as well.

Question 7 (gambling expansion): Our contributors split evenly on this issue, and therefore we are not endorsing any position.

Replenishing the education trust fund could provide Maryland with the money it needs to move ahead with projects the Purple Line. However, gambling has adverse social consequences, and would be unlikely to promote sustainable economic development in Prince George’s County. Voters should weigh these and others factors themselves in deciding how to vote.

These are the official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority in favor of endorsing for or against each issue.