Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

A Shot Over The Bow

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, April 5, 2006

The Washington Post calls it a shot in the foot.

Tilting Maryland's Vote

How to cast a pall over elections — before they even take place

Wednesday, April 5, 2006; A22

IN THE SANCTIFIED name of expanding the popular vote and widening access to the polls, Maryland Democrats have sacrificed fairness to partisan advantage. The Democrats, who dominate the state legislature in Annapolis, pushed through a bill allowing voting to take place for five days before Election Day — but mostly at polling stations in Democratic strongholds.

This isn't the first time a majority in a state legislature has sought electoral advantage by ramming a brazenly partisan measure down the throat of the minority party. The justification generally comes down to, "Well, they'd do the same to us if they were in power." But no matter which party is behind such partisan mischief, the effect is the same: to subvert the faith that Americans place in the electoral system's fairness.

The procedural aspects of this bill's passage are odious enough. Before they voted, Democratic lawmakers stripped the bill of provisions that would have permitted Republicans an equal role in deciding where to place the early-polling stations and that would have required that the stations' locations be geographically central. The conference committee that wrote the bill was composed of six Democrats and zero Republicans.

The locations of many of the polling stations for early voting seem designed to mine Democratic votes, which tend to be in more heavily populated areas. In Howard County, early-voting stations were placed in heavily Democratic areas in an apparent effort to weaken the reelection prospects of freshman state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, probably the most imperiled of Maryland's 14 Republican state senators.

Democrats enjoy a healthy advantage in voter registration and are understandably eager to recapture the state's governorship, which they lost in 2002, in this fall's elections. Over the past two years they have sought to leverage their statewide numerical advantage by enacting a set of relatively permissive elections laws under the aegis of what the party has called a "voters' bill of rights." As a result, Maryland voters will not be required to show any form of identification, and they will be able to cast provisional ballots practically anywhere in the state, regardless of their home address.

Republicans insist that these measures will open the door to electoral fraud; if fraud does mar the November ballot, the Democrats will be responsible. But they are not unfair on their face. By contrast, tilting the early-voting system toward heavily Democratic areas in strategically key jurisdictions taints the election even before it occurs. With such arrogance and abuse, the Democrats will only erode their majority in Maryland.

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The Polling Stations in Question

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One Response to “A Shot Over The Bow”

  1. Where did you get those precinct-level data? I’ve been looking for that information for quite some time.

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