Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Young Republicans & Democrats United // Youths Ask Annapolis Lawmakers for "Right to Serve" (aka Make Them Equal To You)

UPDATE: Well, it seems not all Young Republicans actually believe in uniting around youth issues. Before I left for a series of meetings today, one of the Young Democrats below had told me that the effort below was endorsed by the Baltimore Area Young Republicans. He provided me an updated copy of the letter, and I promised I would post it as soon as I got back from my meetings. No sooner had I tried to do so (see below), before Brian Griffiths from the Red Maryland blog and whoever handles the Twitter account for the Maryland Young Republicans decided to start getting cute and saying I was improperly speaking for their Party. Yeah right, like I would EVER want to speak for the GOP. 

But more importantly, WTF. See, young people, wings of the GOP are more interested in picking fights than solving your problems or gaining you a bigger voice in government. Remember that this November. For those of you that care about issues, we hope you will still support your own kind -- please stand up for HB 1249.

One more example of generational agitation -- Young Democrats and Young Republicans from across the Free State are petitioning Maryland lawmakers for the right to serve in elected office. Right now, young people (aged 18-25) are among the only voters who are allowed to vote for public office, but are banned from running for office. Even Jack Abramoff is allowed to run for office in Maryland. How stupid that such a prohibition should exist. After all, if one is concerned about the age of a candidate, just don't vote for them. Maryland Juice hopes that Annapolis lawmakers will correct this injustice. See the testimony of the young ADULTS below (their bill is HB 1249):
March 12, 2012

Dear Chairwoman Harrison and Members of the Committee:

HB 1249 would change the age requirement to serve as a State Delegate or State Senator in the state of Maryland from 21 and 25, to 18. If passed, the Maryland legislature would expand this important right to the last segment of the voting population that only has partial suffrage—our young people. We urge a favorable report on this legislation to continue on the path towards full suffrage for all adults, which Maryland has pursued over the past 200 years.

The passage of such legislation would be in keeping with our state's proud tradition of expanding equal and full enfranchisement to all voters--regardless of race, creed, gender, or ethnicity. For example, in the 1800’s a Presbyterian State Delegate representing Western Maryland named Thomas Kennedy fought for eight years to fully franchise Jewish citizens. Finally in 1826, the Maryland General Assembly passed by one vote this nationally significant bill to allow Jewish people both the right to vote, and at the same time the right to serve. Two years later, Reuben Etting of Baltimore became the first Jew to be elected to the House of Delegates—an event, which could not have happened without the passage of full suffrage rights.

Partial suffrage was also a difficult challenge for the women’s rights movement to overcome. The best example of this is Belva Lockwood who was the first woman to graduate from what is now the George Washington University School of Law, and the first woman attorney allowed to practice law before the Supreme Court. In 1884, Lockwood was also the first woman to run on the ballot for President of the United States. Her Presidential race would serve as a powerful example of the contradictions inherent in partial suffrage. While she received about 4,000 votes nationwide, being a woman, she was not even allowed to vote for herself. This hypocrisy helped underscore the importance back then of full suffrage, and it remains relevant now.

This legislation does not mandate a certain amount of young legislators, or give them assistance to run for office. If passed, there will still be a large discrepancy between the number of young people in office, and those in the general population. What this legislation will do is send a powerful message to young people that the rights and service of all voters is equally respected and upheld under the law. Therefore, we ask for your favorable report on HB 1249.


Erin Schurmann
Young Democrats of Maryland

Trae Lewis
Baltimore Area Young Republicans

Timothy Hwang
National Youth Association

Joseph Kitchen
Executive Vice President
Young Democrats of Maryland

Erin Dickenson
State Director
Maryland Youth Association

Sean Rutherford
Baltimore County Young Democrats

Dave Kunes
Montgomery County Young Democrats

Tashea Brodgins
Baltimore City Young Democrats

Tom Myers
Harford County Young Democrats

Larry Stafford
Prince George’s County Young Democrats 

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