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Community groups want to move Baltimore elections

Every four years, Baltimore City hogs the Election Day spotlight in Maryland by default. A alliance of community groups wants to change that.

The Baltimore Election Change Coalition will kick off its campaign Monday to sync the city’s election calendar with the state’s. Maryland elected delegates, senators and statewide officials, including the governor, in 2010.

Baltimore held its citywide elections last year.

The push to change the election cycle was prompted by “all-time low” voter turnout last year.

“Less than 12% of eligible voters participated in the primary; only 22% of registered voters voted. General election turnout was even worse,” the coalition statement read. “The BECC believes that having our City officials selected by so few voters with the expenditure of monies that the City needs in the current budget crisis calls for action now.”

The coalition wants Baltimore to join the other major jurisdictions in Maryland and hold its next citywide election in 2014 instead of 2015. (That would, of course, shorten the term for the mayor and city council by a year.)

“With more officials and issues on the ballot, more voters will turn out and democracy in Baltimore City will be strengthened. In addition, the City could potentially save several million dollars,” the coalition said.

The coalition consists of the Maryland chapter of the ACLU; Baltimore chapters of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters; Citizens Planning and Housing Association; National Action Network of Greater Baltimore; Baltimore’s Safe and Sound Campaign; and Teaching Our Own Understanding and Responsibility.