Md. Ballot Question 2 would change residency requirements for certain candidates
MARYLAND – On November 8th, Marylanders will be faced with five constitutional ballot questions when they vote. Question Two has to do with who can run for state delegate or senator.
If passed, Question Two would require candidates running for state delegate or senator to have maintained a place of abode in their district for at least six months.
Dr. Samuel Hoff, a professor of political science and constitutional expert at Delaware State University, says Maryland would be only one of five states to have such a measure, if it is passed. He says most states’ residency requirements span from ten days to a couple of years.
“You want a candidate to have some kind of knowledge of the area where he or she is going to run for the State Legislature. You want them to have some commitment to that area,” said Dr. Hoff. “You also want to prevent the idea of carpetbagging, or coming from somewhere else on short notice to run.”
The renewed regulations could also provide voters a better idea of who their pick actually is, says Dr. Hoff.
“I think voters would potentially have more confidence in the candidate being more committed to their area. And, they might get more of a chance to meet that person,” said Dr. Hoff.
Helping or Hurting?
Though Dr. Hoff says the measure seems straight forward, there are those who have raised concerns.
“A lot of states, including Maryland, have had redistricting controversies. Some of which are still going on. That means a candidate will have to upend his or her life to get that primary residency in short order,” said Dr. Hoff.
Dr. Hoff adds that some have pointed out that renting a home does not necessarily mean the candidate does not live there.
“You might still want to test the waters by having another residence within the district, such as renting,” said Dr. Hoff. “Renting doesn’t mean you’re not there. It simply means you may have a residence somewhere else across the state. The state does have a one year residence requirement [for Congressional races], as well. So, on top of that district requirement there’s a state requirement.”
If Marylanders choose to pass the measure, it would go into effect in 2024. No other action would need to be taken, as the Maryland General Assembly has already given the measure unanimous support.
“It needs 60% to get put on the ballot, and of course they surpassed that with the unanimous support. It only needs majority support of voters to be officially approved, and to go into effect in 2024,” said Dr. Hoff.