Testimony on CR 27-2016
To: Howard County Council
Date: February 16, 2016
There is a problem in this country with low electoral participation. People are disenchanted with government and believe our democracy to be broken beyond repair. We can see this anger and frustration play out on the national stage in among both Democrats and Republicans. However, too often the result is not a political revolution, but political stagnation in which eligible voters stay home. “What’s the point?” they may ask.
The electorate is becoming increasingly diverse with the U.S. population expected to become majority minority by 2044. Maryland will cross this threshold in just 4 years. Howard County is no exception. According to the Census Bureau, 44.6% of Howard County residents are people of color who work hard to make ends meet. With per capita income of $48,000 and more than 114,000 residents living below the poverty line, it is difficult for many working people to fully engage in the political process. They are priced out of running for office themselves and often believe any small donation they could afford would make no difference compared to big dollar donors. This leaves people feeling disconnected and unrepresented.
However we are here tonight promoting a solution. Creating a Small Donor Empowerment Program will help shift the focus away from the wealthiest of donors and back to everyday people. By providing matching funds to qualifying candidates who agree to only accept donations from small donors who live in the County, this program will allow for more diverse candidates to run for office, increase participation in the process, and result in more substantive legislative debate about the issues that affect the daily lives of all County residents.
Featured image by Nate Pesce.