My home state of Maryland has gotten almost no attention this election season. Barack Obama will win the state's 10 electoral votes by upwards of 20 points. Ben Cardin will be reelected as our Senator. And only one of the state's 8 House races will be competitive (thanks to some clever redistricting, the one competitive seat will likely switch from GOP to Dem). When it comes to ballot initiatives, though, Maryland could be on the cusp of enacting some historic progressive change.
Question 4 would allow for undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities as long as they meet basic requirements (like graduating high school, enrolling in the selective service etc). Not only is this a moral initiative, but it is also a wise investment in the state's human capital. A recent Washington Post poll showed the initiative leading by 24 points among likely voters. While versions of this bill have passed in other states (even Rick Perry's Texas!), Maryland would be the first state to ratify this change through a statewide vote.
Question 6 would certify the state's new law allowing same-sex marriage. The same Post poll showed Question 6 leading by about 9. This margin is a bit too close for comfort. In previous elections, the anti-same sex marriage side has outperformed the polls on election day. Nevertheless, I'd rather be on our side than theirs, and if we are successful, Maryland will be the first state to ratify marriage equality by popular referendum.
These exciting developments would not be happening without enormous grassroots support. The the Maryland General Assembly is strongly Democratic, neither of these initiatives sailed through the legislature. The Senate President is sort of a stubborn old hack, despite his D label, so he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get these laws through.
If we are successful on November 6th, Maryland can show the country what progressive change looks like. We will be leading the way in expanding opportunity and freedom for all of our citizens. While these initiatives transcend politics in many ways, they will sure look good on Governor O'Malley's resume if he chooses to seek the Democratic nomination in 2016.