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Maryland’s Early Voting Changes Raise Red Flags

Voter fraud continues to be a rampant issue, one that has Watchdog’s all over the country keeping a close eye on procedures, voter rolls, and new legislation related to voting. The Maryland Republican Party recently analyzed Maryland’s new voter file and found some troubling results.

Diana Waterman, Chair of the Maryland Republican Party, made the following remarks, “There are many issues with the current voter file and the way Maryland law handles its data. For example, according to the State Board of Elections, there are forty eight people listed who are 114 or older. Apparently, the forty eight oldest living people in the world reside in Maryland.”

Mrs. Waterman concluded, “Governor O’Malley was bitterly divisive during the latest round of redistricting. He gave Maryland the most gerrymandered maps in America. It is time to open the books and cleanse our list of the deceased and those no longer residing in Maryland to make sure we fully understand who is voting in our elections.”

The MDGOP also found an overwhelming number of voters, 268,004, have a different address than the one on file with the Maryland State Board of Elections. More than 11,000 voters have changed their address to another state entirely. With these many issues being causes for concern, some proposed changes to Maryland’s early voting policy are raising more red flags.

Two Maryland lawmakers hope to increase the early voting turnout by extending early voting through the weekend before election day, but that would eliminate safeguards in place to prevent people from voting more than once. House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Sheila Hixon (D-Montgomery) and Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore) argued that an extra weekend could increase voter turnout in a letter to state elections administrator Linda Lamone.

“Maryland’s early voting period remains one of the most limited in the nation,” Hixson and Cardin wrote. “The Brennan Center for Justice recommends allowing early voting on the weekend before Election Day, because early voting turnout increases as public excitement and media coverage of the election build as Election Day approaches.”

Lamone replied saying “implementing the change would essentially reverse a standing election policy that was designed to prevent voter fraud.” As it stands currently, all electronic poll books are updated before Election Day and the process takes a full weekend to complete, which is why early voting currently ends on the last Thursday of the month before the general or primary election. This process was enacted to prevent a voter from voting more than once.

“Abandoning the practice of updating poll books before Election Day with early voting information would address most of the administrative issues associated with early voting through Sunday. However, it would also represent a significant policy change from preventing a voter from voting more than once to relying on deterrence and prosecution after the fact.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) law, HB224, “Improving Access to Voting,” has also raised concerns.  The bill expands early voting by opening up online ballot access to all absentee voters. “Enhanced security measures” were put in place, but there will also be a number of studies beginning on July 1st.  While the law allows same day voter registration, Hixon’s and Cardin’s letter “specifically expressed concern about the security of online voter services” yet they are not convinced updating the electronic poll books should be required.

“We are not convinced that updating the electronic pollbooks is necessary,” the letter stated. “We request that the option of not providing an updated list to the check-in judges [on Election Day] be considered as part of the study of this issue. A person who voted during early voting and on Election Day in their own name would be certain to be detected and subject to prosecution for voter fraud, and would only gain a single vote. As a result, such incidents must be exceedingly rare.”

To get involved in voter fraud watchdog efforts in Maryland, visit Election Integrity Maryland and stay tuned to Watchdog Wire as well for updates.

 

Jackie Wellfonder

Jackie Wellfonder is a proud conservative activist and strategist. She started blogging in 2012 and spreading a common sense message of fiscal conservatism, limited government, and transparent governance. She is also a radio host at www.waarradio.com.

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Categories: Elections, Must Read, Policy, Politics, Waste, Fraud and Abuse
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