What Happened With All Those Ballot Questions? We Break It Down

Voters decided two Constitutional questions in Maryland: whether to expand the General Assembly's budgetary powers and legalization of sports betting. The Montgomery County Democratic Party posted signs in favor of both questions. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) encouraged voters to vote against Question 1, the expansion of legislative budget powers. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

By a robust margin, Marylanders voted to legalize sports gambling on Tuesday, a move that brings the state in line with its Mid-Atlantic neighbors.

As of 11:32pm, 66% of the electorate voted in favor Question 2, while 34% were opposed. The question won majorities in all 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Voters also handed the General Assembly a win on Tuesday, approving a statewide referendum that will give lawmakers more of a say in how the state’s budget is crafted.

Question 1 was supported by 75% of voters as of early Wednesday, with 25% opposed.

The budget referendum will allow lawmakers to increase, decrease and move money around in the state’s spending blueprint, subject to the overall cap set by the governor. The legislature’s new powers take effect in 2023, the year Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) leaves office due to term limits.

A union-packed political action committee was established in late September to generate support for Question 1. It raised $325,000 from the national teachers union and AFSCME.

Hogan’s state political committee, Change Maryland, launched a website in opposition to the measure. Republican lawmakers also spoke against it.

Democratic Sen. James C. Rosapepe (Prince George’s) was the lead Senate sponsor of the constitutional amendment.

“The legislative branch represents people from across the state — different constituencies, different backgrounds, and different interests,” he said.

“Everyone’s elected representatives should have a voice in how the state spends their tax money. That’s what the approval of Question 1 gives all the people of Maryland — a voice,” he added.

In a statement, the group Marylanders for Question 1 said the change will lead future lawmakers and governors “to work collaboratively.”

“Maryland voters have taken the sensible step of affirming Question 1 and giving the General Assembly more power to balance the state budget while investing in key priorities, like schools and health care,” the group said.

Because of the budget constraints now in effect, Maryland’s governor is the most powerful, and its legislature the least powerful, in the nation.

The passage of Question 2, meantime, adds Maryland to the growing tide of states that have legalized sports gambling — 18 in all, including Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

Betting on sports is expected to generate approximately $18 million a year in new funds for education.

The referendum was silent on where sports betting will occur. The General Assembly, which deadlocked on a high-profile measure in March, is expected to take another crack at it beginning in January.

The state’s race tracks, casinos and pro sports teams — all represented by top lobbying talent — will vie for a license to host on-site betting.

Among the key questions left to be decided: whether to allow betting by app, whether college sports will be included, what the state’s take will be, and what kinds of non-sporting events (reality TV competitions? political races?) will be eligible for wagering.

App giants FanDuel and Draft Kings and MGM Resorts International subsidiary BetMGM LLC pumped several million dollars into the Vote Yes on Question 2 committee, a PAC that spearheaded the campaign to build public support for the measure.

The campaign’s ads focused almost exclusively on education funding and skipped lightly over the legalization of betting on sports and events.

Voters Approve Long List of Local Questions

Maryland voters also decided dozens of county-level questions, many of them authorizing bond measures for local projects.

Here’s a county-by-county breakdown of Tuesday’s results:

Anne Arundel:

These results for local measures were updated as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.  Many do not include Nov. 3 in-person voting numbers. This article will be updated with the most up-to-date information.

Voters overwhelmingly approved Question A, a measure to would strengthen the county auditor’s authority to inspect and investigate records about county funds. Roughly 86% of early-voting and mail-in voters cast ballots in favor of this proposal, the latest numbers available as of late Tuesday.

By a 3-to-1 margin, voters also supported Question B, giving the Anne Arundel County Council a say in the county executive’s picks for county attorney, fire chief and police chief. As of 11 p.m, more than 76% of voters approved of this measure.

Question C, a proposal to remove a limit of 1,500 hours per year for contractual employees, attracted the support of 63% of residents as of 11 p.m. The county’s charter once limited contractual employees to 500 hours annually.

Two-thirds of Anne Arundel’s early voters supported Question D, an amendment that would allow the council to expand the county’s “small procurement” process to include contracts between $25,000 and $100,000.

Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor Question E, an amendment would lengthen the probationary period to the amount of time it takes to complete certain public safety training programs, plus an additional year for entry-level, full-time public safety recruits. Eighty percent of early voters supported this question.

Nearly 60% of early voters supported Question F, an amendment that would double the initial term for an acting head of any office or department within the county from 60 days to 120 days, and allow the county council to extend that term by up to two additional six-month periods instead of four months.

Question G, an amendment that would add the county’s human relations commission to the Anne Arundel County Charter, garnered the support of 70% of voters as of 11 p.m.

Baltimore City:

Baltimore residents embraced their new mayor’s ambitious plan to reshape the city’s government, approving many of the proposals that Brandon Scott championed as city council president.

Voters also approved a slew of bond measures, allowing the city to spend money on housing and infrastructure.

Question A — This bond issue would allow Baltimore officials to borrow up to $12 million for the city’s affordable housing program. Most voters approved of this measure ― 87% at 11 p.m.

Question B — This bond issue would allow city officials to borrow up to $38 million for school construction and modernization. All told, 90% of voters approved.

Question C —  This bond issue would allow officials to borrow up to $38 million for the city’s community and economic development programs, which include dealing with blight in the city. This question attracted the support of 87% of voters.

Question D — The final bond measure on Baltimore’s ballot would let city officials borrow up to $72 million for public infrastructure, including repairing city streets. Eighty-eight percent of voters approved.

Question E — This measure would amend the city’s charter to include a Charter Revision Commission, which would be appointed at least once every 10 years to review Baltimore’s charter. Voters overwhelmingly approved the commission, with 88% voting for it.

Question F — This charter amendment would increase the Baltimore City Council’s spending power, allowing the council more control over the city’s budget. If the amendment passes, council members could increase spending within the city’s general fund or add new spending items, with certain limitations. Voters supported this amendment as well, with 76% approving.

Question G — This amendment would make it easier for the city council to override a mayoral veto. Under the amendment, two-thirds of council would need to vote to override a veto instead of the current three-fourths. 69% of voters signed off on this amendment.

Question H — This amendment would increase the amount of time the council has to override a mayoral veto. Currently, council members have between five and 20 days from the date a veto is read to the council to override it. This amendment would add that, if no city council meeting is scheduled within the five to 20 day period, the council can override the veto at its next regular meeting.

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, 76% of voters approved of the amendment.

Question I — This amendment would create a standard process by which the Baltimore City Council could remove an elected official from office. If this amendment passes, the city council would be able to remove officials, including the council president, mayor or comptroller, by a three-fourths vote.

“Incompetency, misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty, or felony or misdemeanor in office, on charges brought by the mayor, the City Council Committee on Legislative Investigations, or by the Inspector General,” are reasons the council could remove an elected official.

Voters were highly in favor of this amendment as of Tuesday night, with 92% approving it.

Question J — This amendment would give more power to the city auditor, allowing the official to issue subpoenas “to any municipal officer, municipal employee, or any other person receiving City funds” to produce documents. It would also require the auditor to provide copies of agency audits to the agencies that were audited.

Voters were also overwhelmingly in favor of this amendment, with 93% voting for it.

Question K — This would create a city administrator position to be appointed by Baltimore’s mayor, who would oversee the day-to-day operation of the city. This proposal in particular was pushed by Scott, who hoped it would professionalize city government.

Voters approved of the measure as of Tuesday night’s tally, with 77% in favor.

Baltimore County:

Voters in Baltimore County overwhelmingly approved all nine bond initiatives they considered. They also voted to create a voluntary public financing system for local political candidates.

Question A, to create a Citizens’ Election Fund System for candidates for County Council and County Executive, had the support of 56% of the electorate as of midnight. The fund, which was modeled after similar programs elsewhere, will take effect in 2026.

Questions B through J authorized $395 million in borrowing for schools, the community college, public works, refuse disposal, land preservation, community improvements and waterway enhancements. All attracted between 73% and 82% support.

Frederick:

Frederick County voters approved a charter amendment to limit the government’s ability to borrow. All four ballot questions on the Frederick ballot attracted at least three-quarters of the vote.

Question A, to allow county council members to more easily request information from the county executive or executive branch staff, won the support of 85% of voters as of 10 p.m.

Question B, to reduce the county’s borrowing limit to an amount equal to 3% of assessable real property (down from 5%), and from 15% to 9% of assessable personal property, was approved by a 76%-24% margin.

Question C, which would make changes in the process for filling a County Council vacancy, attracted support from 77% of the electorate as of 10 p.m., as did Question D, which would establish new rules for filling a vacancy in the office of county executive.

Howard:

Voters in Howard voted overwhelmingly in favor of Question A, charter amendment to update the process by which the dates for appointing members of a redistricting commission are set. More than 72% of voters had approved the measure as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Question B, to reduce the term for residents serving on most county boards from five years to three years, also passed with strong support. As of late Tuesday, 88% of the electorate voted in favor to it.

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

Roughly 80% of voters voted for the measure as of Tuesday evening.

Montgomery:

In Montgomery, voters approved changes in how the county derives revenue from property taxes. They also voted to add two seats to the County Council.

Question A, which would impose a cap on the property tax rate instead of total property tax revenue the county can receive, had the support of 63% of the electorate as of 10 p.m. The measure, which would also replace the current property tax revenue limit, was opposed by 37% of voters.

Question B, which would have locked in the current cap on inflation-based property tax receipts, failed. The measure, sponsored by anti-tax gadfly Robin Ficker, was supported by only 41% of voters.

Question C, to expand the County Council from nine members to 11, with seven serving from districts and four at large, attracted 62% of the vote.

Question D, which sought to eliminate at-large seats in favor of nine district positions, failed. It attracted 41% support.

Prince George’s:

Voters in Prince George’s County approved five bond issues on Tuesday by overwhelming margins. As of 10 p.m., all had attracted support of more than three-quarters of voters.

Question A, which drew the support of 88% of the electorate, would authorize a $178 million bond issue to fund public works and transportation projects.

Question B (which 87% supported) sought support for a $28.8 million bond issue to finance the design and construction of library projects.

Question C would finance $44.5 million construction projects at public safety and fire department facilities. 87% approved.

Question D, which drew support from 78% of voters, would approve a $133 million bond issue to finance construction and rehabilitation projects at county buildings.

Question E (which 89% supported) is a $121.7 million bond issue to help fund projects for community college facilities.

Danielle E. Gaines and Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.
Bennett Leckrone
Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.