During the 2022 Statewide Election season, many UUs were engaged in protecting the democratic process and making a difference in promoting our shared values and positions on important issues. In addition to working for candidates of their choosing, they joined UULM-MD in promoting democracy by contacting voters in Maryland and other states to encourage people to vote.
Working with State Voices, UULM-MD obtained the tools needed to reach out to voters, particularly those in traditionally underrepresented communities, to Get Out the Vote (GOTV). We partnered with the Reeb Project of All Souls Church in Washington DC, UUs For Social Justice, and the UU Legislative Ministry of Virginia to coordinate efforts with the UUA's UU the Vote campaign. This effort focused on reaching voters out-of-state while UULM-MD coordinated efforts to reach Maryland voters to increase involvement in the critical statewide and local elections.
In particular, our Immigration Issue Lead, Jim Caldiero worked with our UU congregations in Howard County to contact voters in communities of color in that county to uphold the Liberty Act. This measure passed by the Howard County Council and signed by the County Executive was a follow-up to the statewide legislation that UULM-MD helped get passed to protect residents from questioning or discrimination by government agents on the basis of national origin or immigration status. Using State Voices data on local voters, UUs sent 23,770 text messages to voters of color to inform them of the need to vote FOR the Liberty Act and protect it from repeal on referendum. After the final tallies, the Liberty Act received 64% of the vote, thereby keeping the law in place.
In addition, UULM-MD and members of the Frederick Congregation partnered with Envision Frederick County, a local environmental nonprofit group, to canvass in communities of color, contacting people who had expressed concern or alarm about environmental issues. Data has shown that people supporting environmental measures are actually LESS likely to vote than others. After many days of door-to-door conversations with voters, we believe that we increased voter turnout among environmental voters. Direct contact with voters in support of our values is an essential part of our work, and we have demonstrated that we can make an impact in this critical part of governance.
As a result of the 2022 elections, the political environment has changed significantly, with all-new Executive Branch officials at the state level (Governor/Lt. Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller) and many at the county level, and newly elected State Senators and Delegates taking office in January. Two more women joined the Senate, although there was a net loss of women in the House, mostly due to Republican men replacing Republican women. While there is no accurate data on the demographic composition of the General Assembly, it appears that more minority members have been elected. While there will be 38 new lawmakers who have never served in legislative offices, the large majority (150) of those elected were incumbents, lawmakers moving from House to Senate, or lawmakers returning after serving in prior terms. The first election following redistricting (based on the census) usually sees many more changes in legislators, but 2022 did not see such a dramatic change. As a result, most of the lawmakers are already known to us and familiar with our priority issues, so there are fewer new legislators to educate. We look forward to having a good session in 2023.