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Election 2020

Howard County Voters Could Expand Charter’s Anti-Discrimination Language

A ballot dropbox at Wilde Lake High School. Howard County Board of Elections Twitter photo.

Although Election Day isn’t until Nov. 3, many Marylanders will be voting early or submitting their ballots by mail for the upcoming General Election. In many of the state’s largest jurisdictions, voters will be met with lengthy ballots and multiple local initiatives to consider. In Howard County, there are three ballot issues to be decided by voters.

If you’re still trying to request a mail-in ballot, or want to know how to register to vote, you can check out our guide for voters here.

If you want to find out where to drop off your ballot, or where you can vote in-person this November, you can take a look at our interactive voting center maps here.

Want to see a sample ballot for your county? The State Board of Elections has a list of every approved ballot for the November election on its website.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the ballot questions in Howard County:

Question A

This Howard County Charter amendment would allow the county council to set dates for appointing members of a redistricting commission to draft new council district borders. Currently, the dates for drawing new borders are set in the charter itself, which uses an “outdated state election schedule” when Maryland held primary elections in September.

This amendment would align the appointment process with a June primary, allowing the council to set dates for appointing the commission after each decennial Census.

As with current law, the commission’s redistricting plan would become law if the council doesn’t adopt a different one.

Question B

This charter amendment would cut the term length for residents serving on most county boards from five years to three years.

Question C

This charter amendment would remove the word “sex” from Howard County’s discrimination protections, and replace it with “gender identity or expression.” The proposal also adds protections against discrimination based on disability, color, national origin, immigration status, age, occupation, marital status, sexual orientation, family status, or personal appearance.

The charter already protected employees from discrimination based on race and political or religious affiliation. The amendment could become the first change to the county’s anti-discrimination charter language since the 1960s, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.

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