The Honorable Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.
President of the Senate
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Mr. President:

In accordance with Article II, Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, I have today vetoed Senate Bill 301 - Allegany County - Board of Education - Elections.

Senate Bill 301 establishes a procedure for replacing a member of the Allegany County Board of Education, after the primary election but before the general election, when a nominee to the Allegany County Board of Education dies, declines the nomination, or becomes disqualified. In this case, the bill requires the vacancy to be filled by the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes at the primary election.

The intention behind Senate Bill 301 is to establish a statutory procedure so that Allegany County does not find itself faced with an incomplete ballot as it did in the most recent general election for the Board of Education. I support this goal, but the solution is not achieved by codifying a method that fills vacancies with a nominee potentially lacking the votes to adequately represent the majority of the citizens of the county. The bill establishes that the candidate with the next highest vote count, even if the vote count is "one", is the appropriate candidate to compete for the position in the general election. I believe that codifying this mechanism for filling vacancies of elected officials sets an inappropriate precedent for the public election process.

While I am sympathetic to the problem that this bill seeks to address, I believe that other alternatives should be explored. In many elections across the State, an extremely qualified and respected candidate emerges prior to the filing deadline. Sometimes such a candidate is an incumbent, or a new candidate, that has the confidence of his or her political party and constituents. The presence of such a candidate in a race will often discourage other qualified potential candidates from pursuing the office. The provisions of this bill could lead to the filling of an office with a candidate who is not the best qualified, or the candidate who the voters would have preferred under different circumstances, simply because a well-qualified and respected candidate was challenged by a limited pool of candidates in a primary election.

For the above reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill 301.

Parris N. Glendening