Volume XII, Issue 1 ~ January 1-7, 2004

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Letters to the Editor

We welcome your letters and opinions. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 • E-mail them to us at [email protected].

Electoral Thinking

Dear Bay Weekly:
It’s interesting to watch the media’s coverage of the tug-of-war between local Democrats and Republicans to win the most registered voters in Calvert County.

Left out of this discussion is the state’s discrimination against nonaffiliated voters and candidates. While the political parties continue to nominate fringe candidates on the left and right that have appeal within their party, many moderate candidates are eliminated in the primary election.

Candidates who do not wish to affiliate with either party must fulfill burdensome additional state requirements such as having to collect thousands of signed petitions to qualify for the general election.

While our state legislators may think they are only discriminating against a few independent candidates who want to run for public office, they are also discriminating against all registered voters who would like the option to elect the candidate of their choice, regardless of party affiliation.

By setting up additional hurdles for independent candidates, the leaders of the two political parties are successfully silencing discontent with the major parties and their policies. They silence debate by setting up additional requirements for anyone who isn’t a member of their party. They silence debate because independent candidates are free to speak their mind, while the party’s candidates often mouth the party line.

My question to the state’s political party leaders is what is it that you have to fear from allowing independent candidates to compete with the party’s candidates on equal footing? Why not open up the system to allow all candidates to compete on a fair and level playing field?

Sooner or later, independent voters and candidates will demand equal opportunity in elections. The state’s politicians can continue to discriminate against independent voters, but as their numbers swell it will be just a matter of time until the status quo is no longer accepted. Sooner or later, some wealthy candidate who can afford the lawyers’ fees is going to file suit against the state government and force them to quit discriminating against independent candidates and voters. It’s unconstitutional, and I hope I’m on the jury!

— John Douglas Parran, St. Leonard

Editor’s note: Parran is a former Calvert County commissioner.

Dear Bay Weekly:
One of the great ironies of our democratic system in Maryland and many other states is that we do not elect members of the judiciary. Or, if we do, it is pro forma with the judge running against himself or herself. Thomas Jefferson had something to say about this in his letter to Samuel Kercheval, dated July 12, 1816, to wit:

It has been thought that the people are not competent electors of judges “learned in the law.” But I do not know that this is true, and, if doubtful, we should follow principle. In this, as in many other elections, they would be guided by reputation, which would not err oftener perhaps, than the present mode of appointment.

Every couple of decades or so, a real election comes along under the Maryland system. Such a time will arrive in Anne Arundel County’s election of three circuit court judges in 2004. This writer hopes that this election will command an equal attention from citizens as will the enormously important election for president of the United States, appearing on the same ballot.

— Bill Burlison, Odenton

Editor’s note: Burlison is an Anne Arundel County councilman.

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Last updated December 31, 2003 @ 9:12pm.