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Fair Elections Maryland coalition disappointed as Anne Arundel County Council falls short on approving charter amendment on public financing

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, the Anne Arundel County Council voted 4-3, failing to reach the 5 vote supermajority needed to pass Resolution #1-22, an amendment to the County Charter to create a local public campaign financing program, which would have been put on the ballot for public vote in the November 2022 Election. (Video of the meeting is expected to be posted here.)

Anne Arundel County voters can still put the Charter Amendment on the November ballot by collecting signatures from voters, which would put the County on the path to becoming the sixth jurisdiction in the state to establish a small donor public financing program. Significant grassroots support had already been building for a local program: a petition circulated by local residents has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures to date.

“Marylanders from across the political spectrum want to reduce the influence of large and corporate campaign donors.  Anne Arundel County voters should have a chance to do so by supporting small donor public financing on November’s ballot, so we are disappointed by tonight’s vote from the County Council,” explained Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr.

“As a lifelong Anne Arundel County resident, I’m disappointed in the Council vote,” said Morgan Drayon, Policy & Engagement Manager at Common Cause Maryland. “I think Council Chair Lisa Brannigan Rodvien said it best, ‘if we really want our County to be the best place for all, we need to have voices that can look at things from different angles.’ Public campaign financing can help to get us there as candidates from more diverse backgrounds without access to wealth would be able to get the resources needed to run competitive races to make the case to voters. So while this is an unfortunate setback, we will continue to work to establish a county program moving towards a more reflective democracy.”

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The Fair Elections Maryland Coalition has worked to successfully help pass resolutions for charter amendments establishing similar programs across the state. In addition to Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County have already established Fair Elections Funds, and Anne Arundel County is considering following suit. Maryland has had a public financing system for gubernatorial campaigns since the 1970s, which was updated earlier this year.

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