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Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Reposted with permission from the Bay Journal

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Program has trained more than 100 residents to become advocates for their communities

By Jeremy Cox : September 15, 2020

Candida Garcia had never been involved in environmental causes. But over the past four years, she has founded a community garden, grilled local officials about air quality, campaigned for statewide bans on plastic bags and straws and successfully lobbied her county to purchase electric school buses.

Candida Garcia and students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, teamed up to create the school’s community garden.

Garcia chalks up her transformation to a leadership program tailored to a demographic that the White-dominated environmental movement has historically overlooked: the Latinx community.

Including Garcia’s inaugural class of 2016, Chispa Maryland has produced more than 100 graduates from its Promotores program. Over the course of six to eight weekly classes, they are given the basics of environmental justice, advocacy and community organizing — with the hope of creating a generation of grassroots “promoters.”

Garcia and her fellow promotores are finding that their work has never been more difficult or urgent. During one of the most imperative moments in its short history, the program may be the prototype that shows green groups in the Chesapeake Bay region and elsewhere how to diversify their membership, said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director of Maryland’s Chispa.

“I think there’s an understanding among environmental groups that we need to expand our reach beyond the typical audience — the White middle-class person who has disposable time and income to volunteer for an environmental cause,” he said. “We want to create a movement that represents the entire population of Maryland.”

Nearly 90% of leadership positions in environmental groups nationwide were held by White people as of 2014, according to a widely cited study. Hispanics and Latinos occupied fewer than 3% of those positions.

Due to racist housing policies, their communities, though, tend to bear more environmental burdens, suffering from poorer air quality, greater impacts from climate change and more toxic contamination.

Candida Garcia works at the Rosa Parks Elementary School community garden, which science teachers have used as a living classroom.

“In order to make real change, we needed to build power in those communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” Palencia-Calvo said.

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, was created by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2014. It was the fourth state-based LCV organization to have its own Latinx-geared program after New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. LCV affiliates in Connecticut and Nevada launched programs the following year, bringing the total to six nationwide.

Palencia-Calvo, a former fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, has been overseeing the Maryland program from its earliest days. He never worried about finding a receptive audience. Polls routinely show that Hispanics are concerned about global warming and are apt to believe it is caused by humans. They also show a strong commitment to a host of other environmental issues.

So, he and his team started knocking on doors, beginning in Langley Park in Prince George’s County. About three-quarters of the community’s nearly 20,000 residents are Hispanic. Their housing is often plagued by mold and lead-based paint. The outdoors offers little reprieve because the air is fouled by the area’s heavy traffic.

Four years later, about 30 of Chispa’s promotores reside in the densely populated nook just inside the northeastern corner of the District of Columbia’s Capital Beltway. Garcia was one of the first.

Speaking in Spanish with Palencia-Calvo acting as a translator, she said concerns about the health of her four children triggered her interest in the environment. Could one of her son’s severe asthma attacks be linked to bad air quality or her aging home? How could she find out if her drinking water was safe?

She and other Chispa participants gathered with their families in the evenings at the local community center. Childcare wasn’t a problem because Chispa had educational activities waiting for them. Everyone brought a dish to share.

Chispa staff conducted most of the training, but some sessions featured experts from other environmental groups. After 40 hours of training — the total has since been shortened to 24 hours — Garcia received her graduation certificate. She swelled with pride. “Muy feliz” (very happy) is how she describes the feeling today.

Then, Garcia got to work. With financial support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, she organized a community garden at Rosa Parks Elementary in Hyattsville. It was designed as a “therapy space,” where families could enjoy a rare opportunity to be together, she said. They grew tomatoes, peppers and other staples, which were distributed among some of the school’s low-income families. For the science teachers, it became a living classroom.

Because of the pandemic, the garden was left fallow this year, but Garcia’s other efforts continue to bear fruit. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched a “Clean Buses for Healthy Ninos” campaign, seeking to steer some of the state’s $75 million Volkswagen settlement money toward zero-emission, electric school buses. Garcia was on the campaign’s front lines, writing a blog post and talking to elected officials.

Last September, the Maryland Department of the Environment invested $2.5 million of that funding in an electric– and propane-bus pilot program in four counties, including Prince George’s.

The Promotores classes have been put on hold this year because of the pandemic, but Chispa leaders hope to restart the program once it’s safe for groups to gather again.

This year’s seemingly unending battle with COVID-19 has plunged Garcia and Palencia-Calvo into territory that would be unfamiliar for many green-focused groups. Garcia, a board member with the Langley Park Civic Association, partnered with Chispa to apply for a grant from LCV’s COVID-19 fund. The association was awarded $20,000, which will be disbursed to families who have suffered financially because of the pandemic. Chispa and the civic association collected an additional $15,000 through community fundraising efforts.

The community has given much to the green movement over the years. Now, it’s time to give back, Garcia said.

“Environmentalism is about the health of the families and the people that we love,” she said.

By |2020-09-23T09:58:31-04:00September 23rd, 2020|Categories: CHISPA, Media|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Reposted with permission from the Bay Journal

Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

Program has trained more than 100 residents to become advocates for their communities

By Jeremy Cox : September 15, 2020

Candida Garcia had never been involved in environmental causes. But over the past four years, she has founded a community garden, grilled local officials about air quality, campaigned for statewide bans on plastic bags and straws and successfully lobbied her county to purchase electric school buses.

Candida Garcia and students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Prince George’s County, MD, teamed up to create the school’s community garden.

Garcia chalks up her transformation to a leadership program tailored to a demographic that the White-dominated environmental movement has historically overlooked: the Latinx community.

Including Garcia’s inaugural class of 2016, Chispa Maryland has produced more than 100 graduates from its Promotores program. Over the course of six to eight weekly classes, they are given the basics of environmental justice, advocacy and community organizing — with the hope of creating a generation of grassroots “promoters.”

Garcia and her fellow promotores are finding that their work has never been more difficult or urgent. During one of the most imperative moments in its short history, the program may be the prototype that shows green groups in the Chesapeake Bay region and elsewhere how to diversify their membership, said Ramon Palencia-Calvo, director of Maryland’s Chispa.

“I think there’s an understanding among environmental groups that we need to expand our reach beyond the typical audience — the White middle-class person who has disposable time and income to volunteer for an environmental cause,” he said. “We want to create a movement that represents the entire population of Maryland.”

Nearly 90% of leadership positions in environmental groups nationwide were held by White people as of 2014, according to a widely cited study. Hispanics and Latinos occupied fewer than 3% of those positions.

Due to racist housing policies, their communities, though, tend to bear more environmental burdens, suffering from poorer air quality, greater impacts from climate change and more toxic contamination.

Candida Garcia works at the Rosa Parks Elementary School community garden, which science teachers have used as a living classroom.

“In order to make real change, we needed to build power in those communities that are overburdened by pollution and are underserved,” Palencia-Calvo said.

Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, was created by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters in 2014. It was the fourth state-based LCV organization to have its own Latinx-geared program after New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. LCV affiliates in Connecticut and Nevada launched programs the following year, bringing the total to six nationwide.

Palencia-Calvo, a former fellow at the Worldwatch Institute, has been overseeing the Maryland program from its earliest days. He never worried about finding a receptive audience. Polls routinely show that Hispanics are concerned about global warming and are apt to believe it is caused by humans. They also show a strong commitment to a host of other environmental issues.

So, he and his team started knocking on doors, beginning in Langley Park in Prince George’s County. About three-quarters of the community’s nearly 20,000 residents are Hispanic. Their housing is often plagued by mold and lead-based paint. The outdoors offers little reprieve because the air is fouled by the area’s heavy traffic.

Four years later, about 30 of Chispa’s promotores reside in the densely populated nook just inside the northeastern corner of the District of Columbia’s Capital Beltway. Garcia was one of the first.

Speaking in Spanish with Palencia-Calvo acting as a translator, she said concerns about the health of her four children triggered her interest in the environment. Could one of her son’s severe asthma attacks be linked to bad air quality or her aging home? How could she find out if her drinking water was safe?

She and other Chispa participants gathered with their families in the evenings at the local community center. Childcare wasn’t a problem because Chispa had educational activities waiting for them. Everyone brought a dish to share.

Chispa staff conducted most of the training, but some sessions featured experts from other environmental groups. After 40 hours of training — the total has since been shortened to 24 hours — Garcia received her graduation certificate. She swelled with pride. “Muy feliz” (very happy) is how she describes the feeling today.

Then, Garcia got to work. With financial support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, she organized a community garden at Rosa Parks Elementary in Hyattsville. It was designed as a “therapy space,” where families could enjoy a rare opportunity to be together, she said. They grew tomatoes, peppers and other staples, which were distributed among some of the school’s low-income families. For the science teachers, it became a living classroom.

Because of the pandemic, the garden was left fallow this year, but Garcia’s other efforts continue to bear fruit. In 2017, Chispa Maryland launched a “Clean Buses for Healthy Ninos” campaign, seeking to steer some of the state’s $75 million Volkswagen settlement money toward zero-emission, electric school buses. Garcia was on the campaign’s front lines, writing a blog post and talking to elected officials.

Last September, the Maryland Department of the Environment invested $2.5 million of that funding in an electric– and propane-bus pilot program in four counties, including Prince George’s.

The Promotores classes have been put on hold this year because of the pandemic, but Chispa leaders hope to restart the program once it’s safe for groups to gather again.

This year’s seemingly unending battle with COVID-19 has plunged Garcia and Palencia-Calvo into territory that would be unfamiliar for many green-focused groups. Garcia, a board member with the Langley Park Civic Association, partnered with Chispa to apply for a grant from LCV’s COVID-19 fund. The association was awarded $20,000, which will be disbursed to families who have suffered financially because of the pandemic. Chispa and the civic association collected an additional $15,000 through community fundraising efforts.

The community has given much to the green movement over the years. Now, it’s time to give back, Garcia said.

“Environmentalism is about the health of the families and the people that we love,” she said.

The post Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-09-23T09:53:24-04:00September 23rd, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Latinx ‘promotores’ lead the way for environmental action

New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar

New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar

On September 15, we held a webinar with our new leadership and our bold plan moving forward.

We’re building upon our demonstrated record of success by focusing on Three E’s:

  • Environment: Solving the climate crisis and the state’s other pressing environmental problems.
  • Elections: Ensuring all Marylanders have an equal voice in elections and that Maryland LCV optimizes its unique ability to hold elected officials accountable for their votes and actions.
  • Equity: Adapting and targeting our work to ensure low-income residents and communities of color have a strong political voice to address environmental problems that disproportionately affect them.

Check out the recording here in case you missed it:

The post New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-09-17T08:42:12-04:00September 17th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on New Leadership, Bold Plan Webinar

Open Letter regarding Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

September 15, 2020
Contact: Kristen Harbeson, kharbeson@mdlcv.org and cell 410-952-8100

Download the pdf of the letter here.

Re: Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN, MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY GREG SLATER, AND MARYLAND TRANSIT ADMINISTRATOR KEVIN QUINN:

Last week, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Transit Administration announced major cuts to the MTA system, including cutting bus service by 20%, reducing MARC, commuter local bus, and paratransit service, and cutting the MTA’s already strained six year capital budget for critical safety needs by $150 million. We, the undersigned, urge rejection of these cuts, which would be devastating to many Marylanders that live in low-income communities, communities of color, and people with disabilities.

Rather than take steps to relieve the strain of a veritable tsunami of challenges to Maryland’s most vulnerable communities, MTA’s plan would exacerbate residents’ difficulties and hobble the state’s recovery. TransitCenter found that 40% of transit commuters in Baltimore City and 35% of transit riders in the state work in essential job sectors, with hospital and health care workers being the largest share of riders. A large number of essential workers – nurses, grocery store workers, child care professionals, nursing care staff, and so many more – rely on public transit to get to their jobs. The proposed cuts would make it harder for these vital workers to get to their jobs, which would threaten their employment and exacerbate the devastation the pandemic has wrought to our economy. A shortage of these critical workers will also add strain to a healthcare system that is already spread too thin.

Maryland should be investing in more public transportation, not less. We should be increasing access to job centers from the communities most in need, not cutting it. We should be prioritizing cleaner transportation alternatives that reduce pollution and the health conditions that make marginalized communities especially vulnerable to the impacts of coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses like asthma. Vehicle emissions also create NOx that ultimately contributes roughly one-third of the nitrogen pollution to the region’s rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Among the problematic cuts to service, the proposed changes eliminate any route from Baltimore City (the jurisdiction with the highest reliance on public transportation) to Annapolis. Even in its current state, public transit to Annapolis is extremely limited, but at least it was available and provided mobility services. With the cuts, Annapolis would become inaccessible by public transportation, limiting the ability of many Marylanders to participate in our state’s Democracy. Public participation is always essential to a free and fair government, but never more so than in a crisis.

In reference to Maryland’s essential workers, the Maryland Transit Caucus has stated in their letter to the administration following the proposed cuts: We rely on them. They rely on MTA. We call on the administration to take immediate action. Funding from the Transportation Trust Fund should be allocated to public transit that benefits all Marylanders, rather than to highway expansion and construction projects that benefit only the wealthiest.

Signed,

  1. Maryland League of Conservation Voters
  2. Maryland Sierra Club
  3. Common Cause Maryland
  4. Clean Water Action
  5. Climate Law & Policy Project
  6. Safe Skies Maryland
  7. Maryland Legislative Coalition
  8. Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
  9. Maryland Campaign for Human Rights
  10. Coalition for Smarter Growth
  11. Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition
  12. Transit Choices
  13. Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
  14. Maryland United for Peace and Justice
  15. Sunrise Movement Baltimore
  16. League of Women Voters Maryland
  17. Maryland Nonprofits
  18. Nuclear Information and Resource Service
  19. Labor Network for Sustainability
  20. Family League of Baltimore
  21. Bikemore
  22. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
  23. Maryland Center on Economic Policy
  24. Job Opportunities Task Force
  25. NAACP Maryland State Conference
  26. Public Justice Center
  27. Our Revolution Maryland
  28. Indivisible Baltimore
  29. Indivisible Howard County
  30. Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
  31. Echotopia, LLC
  32. Maryland Conservation Council
  33. Ji’Aire’s Workgroup
  34. Indivisible Towson
  35. ATU Local 1300
  36. Food and Water Watch Action
  37. Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  38. Disability Rights Maryland
  39. Consumer Advocates for Ride Services
  40. Progressive Maryland
  41. Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Mary
  42. Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Baltimore
  43. WISE Maryland
  44. Maryland Climate Justice WIng
  45. Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee
  46. Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
  47. Accessible Resources for Independence
  48. League for People with Disabilities
  49. Climate X-Change Maryland
  50. The Nature Conservancy – Maryland/DC Chapter
  51. Saltzberg Consulting
  52. Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  53. Sunrise Howard County
  54. Baltimore 350
  55. The Parent and Community Advisory Board, Baltimore City Public Schools
  56. Sunrise Rockville
  57. Marylanders for Patient Rights
  58. Bus Workgroup 14
  59. South Baltimore Community Land Trust
  60. Free Your Voice
  61. Represent Maryland
  62. Green Team at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Baltimore
  63. Baltimore People’s Climate Movement
  64. The Climate Reality Project: Baltimore Chapter

The post Open Letter regarding Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-09-15T13:22:39-04:00September 15th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Open Letter regarding Budget Cuts to the Maryland Transportation Administration

Kristen’s Democracy Cookies (includes printable recipe!)

Kristen’s Democracy Cookies (includes printable recipe!)

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director

I was asked to share the recipe that I used in the Democracy Kitchen segment of our Voter Registration Couch Party on September 2nd . Here it is! (Check out the downloadable link at the bottom to print)

Democracy Cookies (Adapted from Lil’ Luna’s 3 Ingredient Sugar Cookies)

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup softened salted butter

  • It may seem like a lot of butter, but can you ever have too much democracy? At latest count, there are 331,314,584 people in the United States, whose lives are shaped by the government we elect. The butter needs to be softened, so be sure to take out your butter well in advance. Think of it like applying for your absentee ballot – it may take some time, so you want to plan.

 2/3 Cup sugar

  • Elections are sweet, for sure! But it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of work went into making them possible. The sugar has to be harvested, washed, juiced, purified,  crystalized, dried, packaged, and shipped before you can use it. There is a brutal history of slavery, revolution, civil rights, and worker protections that is in each spoonful of your vote. Every time we cast our ballot, we are honoring the struggles that gave us our expectation of a free and fair election.

 2 Cups flour

  • Not the part of any recipe that gets the most attention, but flour is the constitution of the democracy – it is the skeleton that creates the framework for the other ingredients and flavors in your cookie. Bond measures and ballot questions are an important part of elections, where the electorate consents to changes in the kind of cookie you are baking, and whether or not it’s a cookie at all.

 1-1/2 tsp extract (to taste) 

  • You have as many options on how to vote as you do in what you vote for. You are free to choose whichever flavor of candidate you choose – or even use more than one! It’s a personal choice. I like to add both vanilla and orange, or sometimes lemon. You may want to do research into each of the flavors to see which is best for your cookies, since once you’ve cast your ballot you’ll have to wait for the next election to make a new choice.
INSTRUCTIONS — 5 easy steps!
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and make sure you are registered to vote. Mix the butter and sugar in a medium bowl until combined, and make a plan for how you will vote.
  2. Cover your mixing bowl and chill for 15 minutes to an hour while you research candidates and other election questions.
  3. Shape the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls as you fill in your ballot with a black pen. Roll the dough-balls in sugar and be sure to sign your name to the affidavit on the envelope.
  4. Place the balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and be sure to mail your ballot (or use a drop box) before November 3rd.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden on the bottom. In addition to being too hot to eat immediately, the cookies will need to set for 10-15 minutes while the ballots are being counted, so don’t give in to temptation and try to eat your cookies before they’re cooled.

Attached recipe here

Tell us your story of why you vote here

Voter Question Factsheet here

Back to the campaign landing page here

The post Kristen’s Democracy Cookies (includes printable recipe!) appeared first on Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

By |2020-09-04T16:05:47-04:00September 4th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Kristen’s Democracy Cookies (includes printable recipe!)

Voting by Mail in the Old Line State

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director of Maryland LCV

The June Primary has come and gone but the 2020 Election has barely hit its stride. Even as we are facing the rise and fall and rise again of COVID-19 infections, Marylanders are preparing to go to the polls in November.

To pass strong environmental legislation, we must have the right elected officials in office. Nothing is more important to that goal than a robust election where voters’—all voters’— voices are heard and champions are elected that reflect their  conservation values over the interests of those who would pave over forests and eliminate environmental protections. 

To advocate for a fair, free, and safe election, Maryland League of Conservation Voters is part of a large and diverse coalition called “Everyone Votes Maryland.” We hope you will engage in our campaign — including spreading the word — to ensure its success. 

Looking forward through this public health crisis to a critical national election, it is essential that every registered voter make a plan on how they will have their vote heard.

Check your registration

All registered Maryland voters will be sent mail-in ballot applications in advance of the November 3rd election.  Since ballot and ballot applications will not be forwarded,  it’s important that everyone make sure that their registration is up to date. 

  1. Are you registered to vote in Maryland?
  2. Have you moved since the last election?

Check your status here: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Apply for an absentee ballot:

You don’t have to wait for your absentee ballot application to arrive in the mail.

Voting by mail is the best and safest way to make your voice heard. Not only is it secure, but it provides a guaranteed paper record of every vote in the case of a recount. In addition, it allows voters time to sit with their ballots and do research, which is especially important for voters with lower literacy levels, or whose first language is not English.

Visit: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

  •         To receive a ballot in the mail, you must request a ballot by no later than Tuesday, October 27.
  •         Ballots can also be e-mailed if they are requested on or before Thursday, October 30.
  •         You will need to know:
  1. Your voter type (citizenship, military affiliation, etc.)
  2. Your name
  3. Your date of birth
  4. Your State ID number and issue date. This could be a drivers license or MVA-issued ID.
  5. Note that if you don’t already have one, the website will send you to a Maryland Voter Registration Application, which will require an original signature and can not be e-mailed or faxed.
  6. Your address
  7. Your political party (if any)
  8. A contact phone number and e-mail address

You will be asked how you would like to receive your ballot, and be required to swear or affirm that your information is correct: That you are a US Citizen, a Maryland resident, at least 16 years old, and you do not have a current conviction that prevents you from being eligible to vote.

  •   Note: previously convicted felons who have been released on parole or who have completed their time served are eligible to vote by Maryland state law.

Voting by Mail

Once you receive your ballot, you will be able to review the candidates for office and cast your vote safely and securely.

  •         Your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 3, 2020
  •         For ballots sent by mail, postage will be pre-paid. No additional postage will be required.
  •         For ballots received by e-mail, voters will be required to print and mail their ballots with the appropriate postage (2 stamps)
  •         Ballots should be signed and filled out with a black pen
  •         Ballots MUST be signed to be considered valid.

Voting in Person

Some people prefer to vote in person, or have disabilities which make it essential to have in-person voting options. Not to worry!  There will be opportunities for you to visit a voting center.

  •         Each jurisdiction will have voting centers open for early voting from October 22 – October 29th
  •         In-person voting options will also be available on November 3rd.
  •         Voting centers will require voters to wear a mask in order to enter the facility, and social-distancing will be maintained.
  •         Ballot marking devices will be available for voters with disabilities
  •         Same-day registration will be available during early voting and on election day
  •         Voters registering on-site may be required to fill out provisional ballots.

Important Dates:

  • Absentee ballots will begin being mailed out on September 19th
  • Last day to pre-register to vote is October 13th– you will still be able to register in person on election day at your polling location
  • Early Voting for the General Election – Thursday, October 22, 2020 through Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 8 am until 8 pm.
  • Last day to request an absentee ballot is October 29th
  • November 3 General Election – Your absentee ballot must be postmarked by this day

A great how-to video on absentee ballot request from Speaker Adrienne Jones can be found here.

We need to stay vigilant and focused on ensuring every Marylander has the necessary tools and resources to vote. Stay tuned to see updates from us and our partners in Everyone Votes Maryland about the November elections. With so much at stake, we need all Marylanders to exercise their right to vote.  It is one of the best actions you can take to protect and restore Maryland’s land, air, water and communities.

By |2020-07-30T14:19:15-04:00July 30th, 2020|Categories: Education Fund|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Voting by Mail in the Old Line State

By Kristen Harbeson, Political Director of Maryland LCV

The June Primary has come and gone but the 2020 Election has barely hit its stride. Even as we are facing the rise and fall and rise again of COVID-19 infections, Marylanders are preparing to go to the polls in November.

To pass strong environmental legislation, we must have the right elected officials in office. Nothing is more important to that goal than a robust election where voters’—all voters’— voices are heard and champions are elected that reflect their  conservation values over the interests of those who would pave over forests and eliminate environmental protections. 

To advocate for a fair, free, and safe election, Maryland League of Conservation Voters is part of a large and diverse coalition called “Everyone Votes Maryland.” We hope you will engage in our campaign — including spreading the word — to ensure its success. 

Looking forward through this public health crisis to a critical national election, it is essential that every registered voter make a plan on how they will have their vote heard.

Check your registration

All registered Maryland voters will be sent mail-in ballot applications in advance of the November 3rd election.  Since ballot and ballot applications will not be forwarded,  it’s important that everyone make sure that their registration is up to date. 

  1. Are you registered to vote in Maryland?
  2. Have you moved since the last election?

Check your status here: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch

Apply for an absentee ballot:

You don’t have to wait for your absentee ballot application to arrive in the mail.

Voting by mail is the best and safest way to make your voice heard. Not only is it secure, but it provides a guaranteed paper record of every vote in the case of a recount. In addition, it allows voters time to sit with their ballots and do research, which is especially important for voters with lower literacy levels, or whose first language is not English.

Visit: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

  •         To receive a ballot in the mail, you must request a ballot by no later than Tuesday, October 27.
  •         Ballots can also be e-mailed if they are requested on or before Thursday, October 30.
  •         You will need to know:
  1. Your voter type (citizenship, military affiliation, etc.)
  2. Your name
  3. Your date of birth
  4. Your State ID number and issue date. This could be a drivers license or MVA-issued ID.
  5. Note that if you don’t already have one, the website will send you to a Maryland Voter Registration Application, which will require an original signature and can not be e-mailed or faxed.
  6. Your address
  7. Your political party (if any)
  8. A contact phone number and e-mail address

You will be asked how you would like to receive your ballot, and be required to swear or affirm that your information is correct: That you are a US Citizen, a Maryland resident, at least 16 years old, and you do not have a current conviction that prevents you from being eligible to vote.

  •   Note: previously convicted felons who have been released on parole or who have completed their time served are eligible to vote by Maryland state law.

Voting by Mail

Once you receive your ballot, you will be able to review the candidates for office and cast your vote safely and securely.

  •         Your ballot must be postmarked on or before November 3, 2020
  •         For ballots sent by mail, postage will be pre-paid. No additional postage will be required.
  •         For ballots received by e-mail, voters will be required to print and mail their ballots with the appropriate postage (2 stamps)
  •         Ballots should be signed and filled out with a black pen
  •         Ballots MUST be signed to be considered valid.

Voting in Person

Some people prefer to vote in person, or have disabilities which make it essential to have in-person voting options. Not to worry!  There will be opportunities for you to visit a voting center.

  •         Each jurisdiction will have voting centers open for early voting from October 22 – October 29th
  •         In-person voting options will also be available on November 3rd.
  •         Voting centers will require voters to wear a mask in order to enter the facility, and social-distancing will be maintained.
  •         Ballot marking devices will be available for voters with disabilities
  •         Same-day registration will be available during early voting and on election day
  •         Voters registering on-site may be required to fill out provisional ballots.

Important Dates:

  • Absentee ballots will begin being mailed out on September 19th
  • Last day to pre-register to vote is October 13th– you will still be able to register in person on election day at your polling location
  • Early Voting for the General Election – Thursday, October 22, 2020 through Thursday, October 29, 2020 from 8 am until 8 pm.
  • Last day to request an absentee ballot is October 29th
  • November 3 General Election – Your absentee ballot must be postmarked by this day

A great how-to video on absentee ballot request from Speaker Adrienne Jones can be found here.

We need to stay vigilant and focused on ensuring every Marylander has the necessary tools and resources to vote. Stay tuned to see updates from us and our partners in Everyone Votes Maryland about the November elections. With so much at stake, we need all Marylanders to exercise their right to vote.  It is one of the best actions you can take to protect and restore Maryland’s land, air, water and communities.

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By |2020-07-30T10:57:27-04:00July 30th, 2020|Categories: MDLCV|Comments Off on Voting by Mail in the Old Line State