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Commission Recommends Changes to Voting Age, Size of Mayor and Council, and City Elections

Lowering the voting age to 16, expanding the size of the Mayor and Council, term limits, representative districts, and consideration of ranked-choice voting were among recommendations the city’s Charter Review Commission presented to the Mayor and Council on Dec. 12.

The Mayor and Council are scheduled to discuss, during their Monday, Jan. 30 meeting, whether to adopt any of the recommendations. Recommendations included:

Lowering the age to vote in city elections from 18 to 16, regardless of citizenship. The commission unanimously recommended this change and also recommended that the right to vote in city elections be extended to anyone “who has been a resident of the City of Rockville for six months preceding a municipal election, without regard to citizenship.”

Expanding the Mayor and Council from five members to seven, comprising a mayor and six councilmembers.

Limiting the mayor and councilmembers to three consecutive four-year terms. This would not preclude someone from serving as mayor following three consecutive terms as a councilmember, or vice versa.

Creating representative districts. The commission deferred to the Mayor and Council on how to achieve this, as well as whether to include at-large seats.

The creation, by the Mayor and Council, of “a precise, open, transparent, and definitive administrative process for the election of a Councilmember when a vacancy occurs after the 24th month of a term.”

Exploring ranked-choice voting and, if deemed appropriate, implementing the process, which allows voters to rank candidates on a ballot by order of preference. The commission also recommended that ballots offer a “None of the Above” option.

Exploring scheduling city elections to coincide with the presidential or gubernatorial elections. City elections are held every four years, with the next election in November.

The commission unanimously voted to recommend against staggering councilmember elections by electing different seats in different years. Other commission recommendations concerned election outreach, ballot drop boxes, and the terms, appointment, and duties of members of the city’s Board of Supervisors of Elections.

Find video and more information with the Dec. 12 Mayor and Council meeting listing at www.rockvillemd.gov/AgendaCenter. Or find the 2022 Charter Review Commission Report at www.rockvillemd.gov/charter-review-commission.

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