Prince George’s Co. Council rejects virtual voting

For lots of people, ‘work from home’ ended with the pandemic emergency. But now some lawmakers in Prince George’s County want to bring back online council meetings and virtual voting.

Under their own rules, members of Prince George's council must be in person, and all votes must be cast in person. 

But a bill to allow virtual online participation is causing a big split on the council. 

Councilmember Krystal Oriadha is pregnant and is due this fall and says she and other council members want to restore their ability to attend meetings and vote virtually. But Councilmember Calvin Hawkins says council members need to show up in person. 

"That’s the rules! And now we’re at a point where people want to change the rules. I mean we’re close to the end of this session, let’s keep moving," said Hawkins. 

Oriadha says she’s concerned that her constituents will lose their voice and vote if she has to stay out on an extended maternity leave. 

"If I don’t have the ability to attend, then my community loses their vote, they lose their voice and I think every single council member, whether you agree or disagree with their stance on a bill, should have the opportunity to vote!" said Oriadha. "I could honestly be okay if the conversation was really about the principal around should we have proxy votes, should people be able to vote virtually – but not when it’s simply an attack, and you’re using the situation for a political grab."

On Tuesday, a vote on changing the policy failed on a 5-5 vote, with one member out sick. 

Oriadha says if she can't attend meetings virtually, she'll come in person – with her baby if she has to.