Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Early Voting Bill in Annapolis

Posted by Ed C on Sunday, January 21, 2007

Remember the early voting petitions this summer? Did you sign one of the green or the blue petitions? Did you think it was over when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that early voting is unconstitutional?

Well, now is the time to contact your representatives in Annapolis because of the Constitutional Amendment filed by Sen. Miller et al. as Senate Bill #1

Synopsis: Authorizing the General Assembly to provide by suitable enactment a process to allow qualified voters to vote at polling places in or outside their election districts or wards, and on specified days prior to specified election dates; and submitting the amendment to the qualified voters of the State of Maryland for their adoption or rejection.

Currently, a hearing is schedule for Feb 1st.

Personally, I don’t object to the concept of early voting. I believe that the full participation of an informed electorate will only strengthen and improve our representation at all levels of Government. What I do object to is the purely partisan manner in which some of these measures are enacted. The current gerrymandering is bad enough, but trying to further stack the deck with the locations of early polling locations does not serve the citizens of Maryland well. When you look past the flowery rhetoric and noble sounding language and examine the details of the implementation you can see something entirely different.

However, I can even look past those deficiencies because I believe that a good candidate will still prevail. What I do object to is the lack of the requirement to requiring positive identification of a voter; Yes, requiring a photo ID. If you want to vote early, fine. If you want to vote outside of your assigned polling district, well, I can live with that too. As long as you can only vote once and only you can vote under your name then we can have a fair election.

Every vote must count equally. My vote counts the same as yours. If I was inclined to vote myself and for a neighbor (because I know their name, address and birthday) by voting on different days or at different locations, then my “votes” count twice as much as yours. If I get four “friends” to do the same thing five times, well, we get 25 votes to your one – Hardly a fair system. If my friends and I had to show a picture ID, this type of fraud becomes much more difficult and much more likely to be detected. Just like we need to insure that all votes are counted properly, we need to insure that each voter is properly identified as being cast by a legal, registered voter.

Our election system requires confidence in the system. Just like we require that elected officials and others to act without the “appearance of impropriety” we should demand a voting system that inspires confidence by reducing the potential for fraud and abuse.

Now is the time to contact your state legislator and see you on Election Days!

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One Response to “Early Voting Bill in Annapolis”

  1. hocoterp said

    I think SB 1 is going to be a tough train to stop. Ignoring the issue for the moment let’s look at the fact that it’s sponsored by (the nearly all-powerful) President of Senate Mike Miller and that more than half of the State Senators are co-sponsors. The list of cosponsors in the Senate alone is just a couple of votes shy of the 3/5 required for a Constitutional Amendment, but a veto override also requires a 3/5 vote and both chambers voted to override Ehrlich’s vetoes of early-voting legislation last session. Add to that the fact that the Dems picked up some seats and the numbers lean heavily in favor of the bill passing.

    Moving closer to a discussion of the issues – I guess that is what we’re supposed to discuss here – it is going to be a lot harder to argue against the Constitutional Amendment contained in SB 1 than it was against the previous early voting legislation. The previous early voting legislation had to provide statutes stating how early voting would be implemented. It had details. It’s almost always easier to argue against the details and implementation of a plan than to debate the concept in the abstract. You heard a lot of “I don’t object to early voting in principle, it’s how they want to implement that I don’t like.” The author of the post strikes a similiar chord.

    With a constitutional amendment that simply says “the General Assembly shall have the power to provide by suitable enactment” an early voting process, the sponsors (Dems) have the opportunity to debate the concept and avoid the details. And if the debate does move on to the details, they get to respond by saying something along the lines of “the opposition is not arguing against the concept of early voting, but the implementation of early voting. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and trust us we’ll get it right when we do cross that bridge. Until then, let’s put early voting to the voters for approval.”

    Based on the previous early voting legislation, no one should be fooled by their intent. It’s a tough sell though to convince most voters that the Dems in Annapolis are partisan hacks who can’t be trusted. The 2006 election could have been about Dem’s at the state level abusing their power and overreaching (instead of the GOP at the national level abusing it’s power and overreaching) but it wasn’t. The results bear that out. So it’s going to be a tough task for Republicans to paint a scary enough picture of how the majority will decide the details to cut early voting off at the pass and defeat the constitutional amendment.

    Tough, but not impossible. At least it will lay the groundwork for opposition to the legislation that has to be enacted to implement early voting. And maybe if enough people are concerned about the details now, the majority leadership may not make the enacting legislation too egregiously partisan and you could end up with a fairly reasonable early voting procedure. Given the current balance of power in Annapolis, that’s not that bad of an outcome.

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