After Early Voting
With a court ruling effectively ending any chance for early voting in this year's elections, Maryland Democratis say they will focus on making sure voters have access to absentee ballots, if they can't make it to the polls election day.
The General Assembly changed the law in the last legislatives session so that absentee ballot are available "on demand." Previously, voters needed to provide a reason, such as illness or being out of the country.
"For those people who want to get out the vote among working-class people, you're going to have to focus on absentee ballots," House Majority Leader Kumar Barve said. "There are a lot of working-class people who work two jobs, and it's going to be tough to go out and vote."
The decision, coming barely two weeks before the Sept. 12 primary, could leave some confusion among voters. In Baltimore, for instance, the city elections board sent postcards to more than 300,000 people proclaiming, "For the first time in Maryland, you can vote in person before Election Day!" and providing information about Baltimore's three early voting sites.
Just as well, said one Republican consultant. "I think the defeat of this early voting proposal will help ensure against fraud in the election," said Carol Hirschburg. "This one was fraud waiting to happen," she said, adding "it was likely to benefit the party that set it up to benefit them."
House Speaker Mike Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said that early voting generally does benefit the party with more registered voters. "But I think it would have had very little impact on the outcome of this election, if you want to know the truth," he said. "It would have been something new, tried for the first time."
He called the court decision "an unfortunate turn of events."
"You live with the judges' decision, but I think in the long run, it's unfortunate for the voters."
Busch said that Maryland is "in the distinct minority" of states without some form of early voting and that early voting was even allowed in the U.S.-overseen elections in Iraq. "I don't know what makes Maryland unique," Busch said.
From staff reports
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