While the majority of our work is advocacy before the Maryland General Assembly, we are also involved in elections that enable the citizens of Maryland to choose their lawmakers and to vote directly on State Constitutional Amendments and bills passed by the Asssembly but challenged by referendum. As a nonprofit organization, we are barred from engaging in political campaigns for candidates or parties, but we are allowed to engage in activities to enable people to vote, discuss important issues, and support ballot measures such as constitutional amendments and referenda. In fact, in 2012, we successfullt defended two measures on referenda, marriage equality and the DREAM Act providing in-state tuition rates to undocumented youth. We also encourage individuals to work on behalf of individual candidates and parties of their choosing, as long as they do not claim to do it on behalf of UULM-MD.
We follow the guidance provided us by the Rev. David Carl Olson when he was a member of our Board in 2020:
Our participation in the public arena is an active, year-round commitment. We invite potential voters and candidates into the public arena, not simply to vote, but more importantly to join with us in the process of imagining/reimagining our future together as community and of working together to realize that imagined future.
Elections are important instruments for building the power we need to transform our communities. Expanding our capacity for making change requires us to approach each election as a critical building block in a series of sequenced, coordinated efforts to achieve that change and to approach each potential voter as an essential part of shaping our communities. Elections at all levels of government are important.
As community, our lives are intertwined. The disenfranchisement of any individual or group from any democratic process, including voting, either through inertia or through exclusion by a more powerful group, ruptures community. We vote on behalf of ourselves and one another.
Community is essential to transforming the world as it is into the new world we envision. Elections are vehicles we use in connection with other activities (e.g., issue campaigns) as a community to shape that new world.
In the 2020 and 2022 elections, UULM-MD participated in UU the Vote efforts to register voters, get out the vote, and discuss issues with voters. See our report of the 2022 efforts below.
During years without elections, we can still engage in these activities, giving us opportunities to engage in deeper conversations about our shared values and the importance of supporting measures that further these values. Please stay tuned as our democracy activities get organized for 2023, and consider joining this worthy effort.