McGinnis v. Board of Sup'rs of Elections of Harford County

Decision Date01 September 1966
Docket NumberNo. 344,344
Citation222 A.2d 391,244 Md. 65
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

George L. Clarke, Baltimore (Buckmaster, White, Mindel & Clarke, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Edward L. Blanton, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen. (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., on the brief), Baltimore, for Lloyd L. Simpkins, Secretary of State.

Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, for other appellees.

No brief filed by appellee Supervisors of Elections of Harford County.




For reasons to be stated in an opinion to be hereafter filed, it is ordered by the Court of Appeals of Maryland this 22nd day of August, 1966, that the decree appealed from be, and it is hereby, affirmed, with costs; and it is further

Ordered that the mandate be issued forthwith.


The Board of Supervisors of Elections of Harford County, troubled (1) because § 202 of the Code of Harford County (1965), provided for three county commissioners, one from each of three specified residence districts, (2) that the residence districts were obviously and concededly malapportioned under the one-man, one-vote principle, (3) that the Legislature had passed Ch. 461 of the Laws of 1966 on April 29, 1966, to repeal and reenact § 202 to provide for five county commissioners, one from each of five specified residence districts of substantially equal population, and (4) that Ch. 461 had been duly petitioned to referendum and would be voted upon by the voters of Harford County at the General election in November 1966, so that the existing law providing for three commissioners from malapportioned residence districts would remain in force and effect, sued the eighteen candidates who had filed for nomination and election as county commissioners (five Democrats and one Republican from each of the three existing districts), seeking declaration (a) whether their candidacies were 'legally filed in view of the referendum petition reducing the number of County Commissioners from five to three' and if not, whether the time for filing could be extended; (b) whether § 202 is unconstitutional in application and therefore requires the three commissioners to run at large; and (c) whether, if § 202 is unconstitutional, the time for withdrawal of candidates should be extended.

D. Franklin McGinnis, an incumbent county commissioner and one of the candidates for county commissioner, filed an answer (as did the other defendants) in which he admitted the general allegations of the bill of complaint of the Board and denied the legality of the referendum process and the power of the court to extend the times for the filing and withdrawal of candidates. He also filed a cross-bill in which he alleged that § 202 was unconstitutional and that Ch. 461 would cure this unconstitutionality if the referendum on it were enjoined and prayed the court to enjoin it so as to give effect to Ch. 461 for the holding of the elections of 1966.

Judge Proctor, on the pleadings and stipulations of fact, decreed:

1. That the residence districts established by § 202 were malapportioned as to population and the representation which would result if the 1966 elections were conducted as called for by said section would be unconstitutional.

'2. That in accordance with the decision of the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Montgomery County Council, et al. v. Garrott, et al., 243 Md. 634, 222 A.2d 164 only three candidates shall be nominated by each of the parties for election to the Board of County Commissioners for Harford County, all candidates, both at the primary election to be held on September 13th, 1966 and at the general election to be held on November 8th, 1966 shall be listed on the ballot without any designation as to residence or districts and shall be voted for by all the voters of Harford County on a county-wide basis.'

3. That the court lacked power to extend the statutory time for filing certificates of candidacy or the statutory time for withdrawal of candidacies.

4. That the relief prayed in the cross-bill must be denied and the cross-bill dismissed.

On August 22, 1966, following an advanced argument, we affirmed Judge Proctor's decree by a per curiam order. Our reasons were these:

In Montgomery County Council v. Garrott, 243 Md. 634, 222 A.2d 164 we held that malapportioned residence districts in Montgomery County for the election of county councilmen produced an unconstitutional result and required the 1966 elections to be held at large, without residence district requirements.

We relied in part on the requirement of § 1 of Art. VII of the Constitution of Maryland that county commissioners must be elected 'on the general ticket,' holding that this meant-for county councilmen in chartered counties as well as for county commissioners-election by all the qualified voters of the County. The Garrott case compels the result reached by Judge Proctor in paragraphs one and two of his decree. See also Gray v. Board of Supervisors of Baltimore County, 243 Md. 657, 222 A.2d 176, dealing with a similar situation in Baltimore County.

Andrews v. Secretary of State, 235 Md. 106, 200 A.2d 650, held that the provisions of Code (1957), Art. 33, § 56(a), setting a time within which a certificate of candidacy is to be filed, are mandatory and leave no discretion in either the election officials or the courts. We think that the rationale of Andrews controls not only the time for filing but the time for withdrawing under C...

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4 cases
  • Lamone v. Lewin, 85, September Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 31, 2018
    ...Code, were "mandatory and [left] no discretion in either the election officials or the court." McGinnis v. Board of Supervisors of Elections , 244 Md. 65, 68, 222 A.2d 391 (1966).11 One year later, the Legislature comprehensively revised the State election law, recodified the provisions con......
  • Spaulding v. Blair
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • October 29, 1968
    ...ripeness having been conceded, there is no occasion to consider this question further. 2 In McGinnis v. Board of Supervisors of Election of Harford County, 244 Md. 65, 222 A.2d 391, 393 (1966), Judge Hammond observed about Maryland's referendum "By Art. XVI of the Constitution, the people o......
  • Lamone v. Lewin
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 31, 2018
    ...of the Maryland Code, were "mandatory and [left] no discretion in either the election officials or the court." McGinnis v. Board of Supervisors of Elections, 244 Md. 65, 68 (1966).11 One year later, the Legislature comprehensively revised the State election law,recodified the provisions con......
  • Alston v. Director, Patuxent Institution, 14
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • September 20, 1966

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