Independents are shut out of Maryland politics

July 22, 2013

While Americans celebrated their independence earlier this month, many registered voters throughout Maryland are still seeking inclusion in the electoral system here in the "Free State." Your recent article reflecting the possible change in the Republican Primaries ("Md. Republicans consider open primaries," July 17) allowing independents — otherwise known as unaffiliated voters in Maryland — the opportunity to participate in their 2014 elections, only scratched the surface of why the fastest growing voter group in this country deserves better.

True political freedom starts and ends at the polls. And yet, while independents have sought successful ballot reform measures in the past two years, including the most recent Baltimore charter amendment allowing for our members to finally be appointed to local boards and commissions, we remain the third rail of politics among the party elite. Quickly approaching the million milestone of registered voters statewide, independent and third party voters remain locked out of a system that for all intents and purposes is supposed to be reflective of a representative government.

However, we have remained shunned by both parties in the legislature as we sought the right to be appointed to statewide boards and commissions, open primaries and some sort of symbolic form of political recognition. Yet, all we continue to get is the cold shoulder from both parties and their leadership, even as the vast majority of voters statewide begin to recognize their independence from this broken form of government.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appears yet to have appointed an independent to a local board or commission, despite over 80 percent of the city electorate voting to ensure our inclusion in last year's elections, and Republicans may very well exclude us from their primaries in 2014. But independents will remain vigilant in our efforts to educate, empower and enlist the support of the constituency of Maryland despite their actions — slowly becoming the dominant political force in this country!

Hassan Giordano, Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of the Independent Movement of Maryland.

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