Voter Registration, Civic Engagement and Advocacy
The Community of Action’s history of Civic Engagement began with the well-received Candidates’ Forum held in June 2018 for County Executive and State Delegates to the Maryland House. It has continued with supporting Voter Registration drives in Montgomery County at Montgomery College and area high school campuses, prior to the COVID Pandemic. In addition, along with the Religious Action Committee (RAC) of the Reform Movement, Community of Action has supported voting rights bills now before Congress. By far its biggest initiative will coming up in 2022 beginning with the June primary races for candidates for county, state and national positions affecting the congregation. Learn more about this work (link or whatever you want to call it to subtopics below)
National Voter Registration Day/September 28
Again this year, Community of Action will partner with other National Voter Registration Day sponsors to support making sure our democracy works. Here are a few facts that tell why this day is important:
- Over 4 million Americans will turn 18 and be eligible to vote this year.
- As many as 30 million Americans will move and need to update their voter registration. Are you among this group?
- An average of 2 million Americans will get married and many of them will change their names and need to update their voter registrations. Does this affect you or someone in your family?
- Worst of all, millions of Americans may be purged from the voter rolls and not know it. Take a minute and check your own registration information by going to link services.elections.maryland.gov
Watch for more information about opportunities to register voters in Montgomery County.
Voting Rights Advocacy
On Wednesday, July 28, over 20 TBA members participated along with members from 20 other Maryland Jewish congregations in a virtual visit to the offices of Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to lobby for their support for the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Congregant Sue Fox was one of four presenters. She spoke eloquently about how her work with refugees, who are so excited to come to the US to gain freedoms they did not have in home countries, reaffirmed her commitment to democracy and voting rights. The group pressured the staff of both senators to convey to them the importance of passage of these bills and urged their strong consideration of eliminating the filibuster to advance the voting rights agenda.
On July 21, the first of a series of regional public listening tours to allow public input into the redistricting process following the 2020 census was held by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission appointed by Governor Larry Hogan. Several Montgomery County residents at the public hearing urged commission members to keep multi-member districts in their proposed maps, arguing that such districts empower historically disenfranchised voters. Maryland uses a mix of single- and multi-member districts in its state legislative maps, but Montgomery County is currently exclusively made up of multi-districts.
The Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates has also appointed a commission on redistricting. New maps are not expected before sometime in December.
To date, the Citizens Commission has completed the first of three rounds of public meetings – the first round was a listening tour; the second round of virtual meetings will begin September 9 at 6 p.m. to discuss the impact of adjusted Census data on congressional and state legislative districts and allow for the public to share maps with the Citizens Commission; and the third round will occur after the Citizens Commission drafts proposed district maps.
At the County level a redistricting commission is working on drawing seven new County Council districts for the 2022 elections. The deadline for submission of a final report is November 15. Recommendations include consideration of 1) compactness, 2) contiguity, 3) equal population, 4) minority representation, 5) preservation of political subdivisions, 6) preservation of community landmarks, 7) preservation of population centers of prior council districts.
See Maryland Census data and try your hand at creating legislative maps! The state map submission portal, loaded with the adjusted data and including detailed instructions on how to submit a map, is now live. Map submissions will be reviewed by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission (Citizens Commission) prior to their drawing of the maps if received by Friday, September 24 at noon. Additional submissions after the Citizens Commission has drawn their maps will also be accepted during the Round 3 meetings in October. Information on map submissions can be found at redistricting.maryland.gov.