"The gubernatorial cycle debate is not finished," said Millie Tyssowski, president of the Baltimore Election Change Coalition. "Some members think we should go for a referendum."

The coalition studied voter turnout over the past two decades and found that, on average, Baltimoreans cast more ballots in the governor's race than the president's race, Tyssowski said. The coalition was spearheaded by the League of Women Voters and included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

By keeping the city's cycle out of sync with the rest of the state, a void is created when a city politician steps into state office. This happened in 2006 when O'Malley became governor and then-council president Dixon was elevated to the mayor's office. Rawlings-Blake's peers on the council chose her to succeed Dixon as council president.

"The City Council president becomes the mayor and the City Council selects the City Council president," Tyssowski said. "So there is no voter input into the successor."

Over the years, there have been a number of efforts to move the city's election. Most recently, in 1999, voters set the city's general election to November 2004, putting city officials on the same ballot as the race between President George W. Bushand Sen. John Kerry.

There was a complication, though. The city did not have the authority to move its primary election, and the General Assembly — which can change the primary — refused to go along. That left an odd 2003-04 election cycle, with voters picking candidates in a September 2003 primary and then waiting 14 months before the general election.

The latest campaign to change the city election cycle came after record-low turnout in Baltimore's primary last September. Turnout was also low in the November general election.

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Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this report.

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