• Top 5 reasons we should support rank choice voting

    January 9th marked the beginning of another legislative session here in Maryland and while a lot of focus is on healthcare, the economy, and the environment, there are bills currently being proposed in both Montgomery County and Baltimore City which would allow county governments the opportunity to implement rank choice voting.  Rank choice voting (aka Instant Runoff Elections) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

    There are five reasons we should push our Delegation to put in a similar bill to allow the counties of the Lower Eastern Shore to do the same:

    1. Restores Majority Rule. Ranked-choice voting ensures that candidates with the most votes and broadest support win, so voters get what they want. A candidate who is opposed by a majority of voters can never win a ranked-choice voting election.

    2. Eliminates Vote Splitting. Ranked-choice voting gives you the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying that you will help to elect the candidate you like the least. You never have to vote for the "lesser of two evils" when there is another candidate you really like.

    3. More Voice for Voters. Your voice matters more with a ranked ballot. You never feel like your vote is “wasted.” If your favorite candidate can't win, your vote counts for the candidate you ranked second.

    4. More Choice for Voters. Ranked-choice voting levels the playing field for all candidates and encourages candidates to take their case directly to you with a focus on the issues.

    5. Reduces Incentives for Negative Campaigning. Candidates are encouraged to seek second choice rankings from voters whose favorite candidate is somebody else. You are less likely to rank a candidate who has issued personal attacks against your favorite candidate as your second choice.

    If you liked this article and want to know how you can help bring rank choice voting to the Lower Shore, you can click the google document below and send that letter to your county council member requesting our state delegation take action.  You can also contact your delegate and ask them to take initiative on the issue as well.


    Look up your state officials here: officials

    Look up Wicomico County Council Members:

    Look up Worcester County Commissioners:

    Look up Somerset County Commissioners:

    Look up Dorchester County Council Members:

  • 5 Reasons we shouldn't get involved in the 2020 presidential elections right now

    1. I know we all want to get rid of Donald Trump. I do as well. But the first debate isn’t till June or July of next year, and the primary in Maryland isn’t until April 28, 2020. There are several big events coming up before that we need to focus on.

    2. 2020 is being used as a way to divide people and we have already seen it. 2019 is a time where we need to be united and focused on the Legislative session that starts in 14 days and the local elections that will be taking place across the Shore and state through 2019. (These are important races happening right in your town/city and are often overlooked.)

    3. Our Delegation on the Lower Shore is banking on you arguing on 2020 and not focusing on what they are doing/ what is going on in Annapolis. Honestly, our delegation has been able to vote poorly for a very long time because the community isn’t keeping up with what they are doing. Also, a majority of our delegation won’t support a lot of things we want to do unless we are organizing the community to pressure them to do it.

    4. Let’s be honest, we aren’t ready for 2020 here on the Lower Shore right now. 2018 was a start where we were able to gain some local seats. But, every statewide race beside Sample-Hughes’ District was a loss. We need to use 2019 to build not argue or we could very much see the same thing happen in 2020 and 2022.

    5. A lot of people just want to see Donald Trump lose in 2020 right now. Ripping the other primary field apart right now will turn more people off towards your preferred candidate than get them to jump on board.

    There is plenty of time during the primary to convince people to join your side, and you can't do that if you have already pushed them away in early 2019.

    Jared Schablein

    Chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

  • University of Maryland must cut ties with ICE

    When I finished my time at a small community college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, there was only one school to which I applied. That school was the University Of Maryland because it was one of the premier institutions of higher education in the country. However, that wasn’t the only reason I chose Maryland. The second reason I wanted to attend Maryland was that it embraced forward-thinking and inclusive practices. I was disgusted and appalled to find out I may have been wrong when I discovered our University had contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.


    ICE was created in 2003 during the height of the post-9/11 panic which lead the federal government to pass reactionary laws, which undermined the constitutional rights and increased domestic surveillance of mainly minority communities. ICE itself was one of these reactionary new policies as it was created and based on the idea that immigrants were a threat to our homeland security.  This assertion was proven false by several studies and reports from agencies and research centers across the nation and globe. However, since its creation, ICE has a track record of undermining constitutional rights and violating the human rights and dignity of both undocumented immigrants and the United States citizens. Extremist politicians and ICE try to label undocumented immigrants as violent criminals in order to create fear, but the majority of undocumented immigrants are products of our broken immigration system. In fact, they are valuable and important contributors to their communities and the American way of life.  An overwhelming majority of these undocumented immigrants have families, jobs, seek or have received an education, pay taxes, and contribute to American society every day.

    The University of Maryland College Park should immediately end its contracts with ICE and embrace the Fearless Idea of fighting for a better immigration system that allows undocumented individuals to come out of the shadows and become full citizens of our great country.   


    Jared Schablein is is a sophomore government and politics major. He can be reached at [email protected] 

  • An Open Letter to the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

    It has been one of the biggest honors of my life to be one of the founders of the Caucus and to serve currently as chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.  Over the last two years, we have accomplished so many great feats, including helping to pass 7 pieces of progressive legislation in the Maryland General Assembly, organizing hundreds of people on the Lower Shore around progressives issues, and electing 7 progressives to public office in our first election alone! I want to take the time to say thank you to each and every one of our fantastic volunteers because without your help none of this would be possible. 


    Secondly, I would like to thank my fellow members of the Caucus Leadership Whitney Palmer, Michele Gregory, Seamus Benn, Ryan Poe, and Jamaad Gould. Over the past two years, a lot has been asked from them on top of their outside lives.  There have been long nights and ups and downs in our journey, but through it all, they have been my rock and always gotten the job done.  There is no doubt in my mind that we have the best volunteers in the entire state.  I know some of us are upset that we didn’t win as many races as we thought we would on November 6, but we have made significant progress for an organization that just two years ago was laughed at and told that we could never win any seats.   With this in mind, I look forward to continuing our work building a progressive movement on the Lower Eastern Shore for years to come, and I am thankful for your continued dedication and support for me as Chair.  With our hard work and continued efforts, we can build a progressive movement on the Lower Shore.  

    In Solidarity,

    Jared Schablein -- Chair Of The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

  • Moving Forward: Why Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore (Desperately) Needs Ben Jealous

    Moving Forward:  Why Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore (Desperately) Needs Ben Jealous

    There are more than a few misconceptions about Ben Jealous, especially since he won the Democratic Gubernatorial Nomination this past June.  Beyond the ridiculous assertion that he is akin to a (left-wing) extremist, is that he doesn’t care equally about the entire state. Rather, the clear implication by his detractors is that he, like Democrats before him, only cares about the corridor between the DC suburbs and the Baltimore region.  In the interest of full disclosure, I live within that major population corridor (Montgomery County, specifically). However, just as I (and many of my friends and neighbors) recognize the importance of addressing the many challenges in every part of Maryland, so does Ben Jealous.


    Yet, don’t just take my word for it.  Consider what he is actually saying about his vision for Maryland, specifically within the context of the challenges facing the Lower Shore: All of the Lower Shore counties have poverty rates above the statewide average.  Somerset County, specifically, is one of the poorest counties in the Nation.  As Governor, Ben Jealous won’t lay down a smokescreen of rhetorical misdirection. Instead, he will boldly advance sustainable economic policies that are applicable statewide, along with those specifically tailored specifically to rural communities like those on the Lower Shore.  For example, he will provide the resources required to help farmers fully embrace technological innovations, foster a solid partnership with urban customers in Maryland and promote rural ecotourism.  Farmers must have the ability to succeed without dependency on corporate entities like “Big Chicken.”   Ben Jealous also appreciates the linkage between a healthy natural environment and the health of the Lower Shore’s economy.  This includes cleaner air from the growth of green industries, such as solar and wind farms, on the Lower Shore and statewide.   In addition, he’ll not compromise on protecting the Chesapeake Bay but instead stand firmly against threats to its health like new natural gas pipelines.


    Ben Jealous will seriously address the infrastructure challenges facing Maryland, including the specific needs of the Lower Shore.  For example, he will press for the expansion of rural broadband access, so businesses on the Lower Shore are not left behind in the 21st Century global economy.  Unlike the incumbent, Ben Jealous will ensure that all localities have the support required for meaningful local transit systems, so everyone on the Lower Shore is able to get from “Point A” to Point B,” regardless of one’s access to a car.  This includes exploring partnerships with transportation network services (i.e. Lyft/Uber), so those needing door-to-door mobility/paratransit services are not treated like second-class citizens. He will ensure that the state fully embraces “Complete Streets” policies and provides sufficient resources for local implementation efforts, so everyone, regardless of travel mode, is able to use the Lower Shore’s entire road network safety- from Cambridge to Salisbury to Ocean City and every point in between.


    Ben Jealous will press for a sincere and sustainable investment in educational opportunities statewide, which is indispensable for economic opportunity throughout the Lower Shore.  This includes the distribution of State resources to local schools that fully reflect the challenges each jurisdiction faces.  Fairly compensating teachers, plus community schools that address the holistic needs of children on the Lower Shore is also critical, given the challenges that so many children on the Lower Shore face outside of the classroom.  For example, any student with inadequate access to quality health care is inherently distracted from one’s studies at best and faces excessive time away from the classroom (due to avoidable and/or inadequate treatment of illness) at worse.  Ben Jealous has a sustainable health care plan to effectively tackle this issue head-on.  His bold and feasible plan will also facilitate equitable, quality health care for every segment of the Lower Shore population.


    The Lower Shore deserves a Governor who truly understands the path forward for every community in our state.  The policies advocated by Ben Jealous will directly improve the precarious economic conditions on the Lower Shore, from essential infrastructure to a holistic education system and full access to affordable, high-quality health care.  He will not give lip service to rural areas. Governor Ben Jealous is advocating true leadership, instead of the “smoke-and-mirrors” that the incumbent has tried to sell the Lower Shore for almost 4 years.

  • An Open Letter to Rep. Andy Harris

    The letter below was read at the healthcare rally outside of the Salisbury office of Representative Andy Harris. Michele Gregory is the Communication and Media Committee Chair for Lower Shore Progressive Caucus. 
    Dear Mr. Harris,

    I’m a constituent of yours. My name is Michele Gregory. I’ve lived in Wicomico County for most of my adult life and I would like to tell you the story of my stepson. 

    His father, Christopher, and I married just before his 3rd birthday. Nicholas, my stepson, had been born with global developmental delays, including apraxia and gross and fine motor delays. He didn’t walk until he was two and a half. He lived with his birth mother at the time and it was a bad situation for him. We filed for custody when he was 7, and after a series of traumatic events during the custody battle, child protective services intervened and placed him with us on his 9th birthday. We officially became his full-time custodial residence on Halloween of 2003.  For the sake of brevity, I am leaving out a lot of horrible details. 

    Nicholas has been a recipient of Medicaid and Social Security for most of his life. He is now about to turn 23 and life has never gotten easier for him. At 18 he began having symptoms of another neurological problem and after six months without finding answers, he had a tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizure that left him hospitalized for several days and incapacitated for many months. Dozens of daily seizures became our way of life. His favorite activity, eating, became a gauntlet, triggering the worst of them. We tried multiple medications and even surgery, only to bring them down to a dozen or so a day. In the past year, he’s been hospitalized 3 times for aspiration pneumonia, landing us in ICU or just a step below that each time. The doctors have made clear that without getting his seizures under control, there is a very real and present possibility that the next time might be the one that takes him from us. 

    Each of these hospital stays, not counting his outpatient surgeries, has run in the neighborhood of $50,000. His monthly medications without insurance would be approximately $3900 a month according to my pharmacy. My husband and I work very hard, my husband for a cable provider, and I am a small business owner here in Salisbury. Together we still would not be able to afford his medications. The next time he is hospitalized, and he absolutely would be within days of stopping his medications, we would have to choose between losing everything we have and letting our son die. Repealing the ACA and gutting Medicaid would be a death sentence to him. And to us.

    My husband had a stroke during surgery at the age of 32. He takes multiple medications daily to keep him alive and well. I have severe arthritis from genetics and sports injuries that without medication is completely debilitating and would mean I could no longer work or run my business. My daughter has a life-threatening food allergy that requires an EpiPen. By repealing the ACA, you would bring back the pre-existing conditions clause that would mean none of us would be covered. 

    As a mother and a wife, I am begging you to not kill my family. Because what you are trying to do will in no uncertain terms do exactly that. You will kill my husband and the children I have raised and loved more than life itself.  I am a walking testament to the ACA. Please don’t end that and kill my children.
    Michele Gregory
    Salisbury, MD