Election Reform: The Hyattsville election board is not playing around

January 8, 2015

Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

BY REBECCA BENNETT  — Citing a historic election year last year, the Board of Supervisors of Elections presented extensive changes to city election law to the Hyattsville City Council for discussion on Jan. 4.

Click here to view all of the proposed changes.

The proposed changes include:

  • Defining the election board as having the power to investigate complaints and hold hearings, and implement enforcement actions
  • Requiring a detailed expense report of cash withdraws more than $20 in 7 days
  • Setting campaign contribution maximums
  • Not allowing anonymous campaign contributions or contributions from foreign nationals (without green cards)
  • Prohibiting residents from running if they fail to turn in required reports or observe required procedures
  • Adding a second campaign finance report before election day
  • Appointing a voter to review campaign finance reports and provide feedback
  • Requiring finance reports for political committees spending more than $100
  • Requiring candidates to open up a separate bank account for campaign funds

Several councilmembers said they had trouble opening up bank accounts during their campaigns once they mentioned they were running for office. City Clerk Laura Reams said the logistics of how to open an account could be included in the candidate packet.

Councilmember Patrick Paschall (Ward 3) said he disagreed with prohibiting foreign nationals from making campaign contributions.  “I think that candidates should be allowed to accept campaign contributions from their neighbors, even if they are a foreign national,” he said.

Councilmember Shani Warner (Ward 2) said she wanted the minimum reportable contribution to be less than $100.  Warner also said she wanted more information about campaign expenditures, including the real recipient and a description of what was purchased.

Councilmember Robert Croslin (Ward 2) said he thought the election reforms were too detailed.  “I don’t want to see too much complication to this, because nobody is going to want to be your treasurer,” he said.

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