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Maryland democracy reforms go into effect without signature from Gov. Hogan

With changes to voting and campaign finance rules, Maryland sets the pace for nation
For Immediate Release

BALTIMORE – Several voting and campaign finance reform bills that the Maryland General Assembly passed this session became law in Maryland after Gov. Larry Hogan chose not to sign them. The new laws increase access to early voting, improve on the state's vote-by-mail system, and reduce the role of large and corporate donors in races for governor. While none of the bills got Gov. Hogan’s endorsement, many of the bills earned bipartisan support in the state legislature.

“We are disappointed that Gov. Hogan did not sign these common sense reforms, especially the update to the Fair Elections Act, which he used to win office,” Said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr, “With these new laws Maryland has firmly positioned itself as a leader on democracy reforms."

The events of 2020 made a clear case for why American democracy desperately needs reform. But while an important federal election reform bill called the “For The People Act” has stalled in the U.S. Senate, a handful of states, notably Maryland, are pushing forward with building a better democracy. 

The Maryland bills passed recently include:

States have often been described as laboratories of democracy and, in recent years, Maryland has been one of the most productive laboratories. In fact, many of the reforms in the stalled federal For the People Act are already in use in Maryland. Over the last decade, Maryland has passed automatic voter registration, has expanded access to mail-in balloting and, after the state legislature passed enabling legislation in 2013, five Maryland cities and counties established successful public campaign financing programs to empower small donors.

Groups including Maryland PIRG, Common Cause Maryland, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Maryland, and the Maryland ACLU have worked with legislators and activists to advocate for these reforms.

So, while partisan gridlock stymies reform just across the state line in Washington, DC, Maryland is showing that there is a path forward for building a democracy that works for everyone.

“Our democracy works best when we all participate and everyone’s voice is heard, in Maryland, the 49 other states and DC,” said Scarr. “Instituting these electoral reforms is a powerful way to ensure we have a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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