Proposed amendment could affect city elections

Change would be needed in state law for primary

August 31, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

A proposed charter amendment that Baltimore voters will consider in November could place the city's primary more than a year ahead of the next election for mayor.

The ballot question asks voters to move the mayoral elections to coincide with the presidential race, a move that could save taxpayers up to $4 million, according to the City Council member who pushed for the ballot issue.

Under state law, Baltimore voters can decide the timing of the general election, held every four years in November. But city voters don't have the authority to change the date of the primary, which usually is held two months before the general election.

Under state law, only the General Assembly has the power to decide when a Maryland jurisdiction can hold a primary election, said Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch, the Assembly's counsel.

If voters ratify the proposed amendment for the general election but the Assembly does not amend state law to bring the primary in line with the change, the election cycle could become confusing -- with a primary in September 2003 and a general election in November 2004.

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