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Vote Early, Not Often

A constitutional amendment that would allow voters to cast their ballots prior to Election Day was voted out of a House committee yesterday, putting the issue on the legislative fast track.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the measure 17-4, and the bill could be taken up on the floor of the House within the next week.

Supporters of the legislation, which is sponsored by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), said it would allow voters to decide whether the state Constitution should be changed to permit voting at various polling places on specified days prior to Election Day.

A law took effect last year to allow early voting, but the state Court of Appeals struck it down weeks before the September primary, declaring that it violated the state Constitution.

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) vehemently opposed the law, and yesterday nearly all of the Republican members of the committee voted against the measure.

Del. D. Page Elmore (R-Somerset) was the only GOP member on the committee who supported the bill.

Elmore said he had no qualms with allowing voters to decide whether the state Constitution should be changed, but he was afraid of "what's going to happen down the road."

Del. Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery) told lawmakers to not let future concerns affect their vote. She said the specifics of the process would be hammered out when the General Assembly takes up an early voting bill, if the amendment passes.

-- Ovetta Wiggins

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 9, 2007; 6:52 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Comments

The Maryland Democratic party has a long history of corruption and rigging. Republican Ehrlich was a one-time miracle, and this sad state is now gonzo for goodo.

Posted by: gitarre | February 9, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I guess all those dead people in Baltimore get impatient waiting to cast their votes on election day like everybody else.

Posted by: Rufus | February 9, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Sorry guys, I didn't realize that Agnew was a Democrat since they're the only ones with a "long history of coruption and rigging.

Posted by: jmsbh | February 9, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

It is absurd that the only opportunity to vote is on a work day.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Yes, voting is somewhat of a hassle. So what? The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you can't make it to vote during that time, then you obviously don't really care enough to vote. Or, if you truly cannot make it, then get an absentee ballot.

Posted by: MK | February 9, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

MK, thanks for voicing what so many people are thinking.

Voting is a privilege and if people don't care enough to make the time, then they shouldn't be permitted to vote in the first place. In fact, if people really wanted the opportunity to vote, then they should be willing to demonstrate their desire - maybe there some sort of a poll tax or test to prove they are worthy.

Why should anyway who has to take their kids to day care, then catch the train to work, then after work go and pick their kids up from day care after work, and then go home to make then dinner and make sure they do their home work, be allowed to vote. They obviously don't care enough.

Now that I got the sarcasm out of the way -THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY EARLYL VOTING SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED.

It works well, and without fraud, in over 30 states, and allows people to go and vote in more convenient times. The only reason someone would be opposed to this (regardless of the reasons they might publicly state) is that they don't want a portion of the population to have that opportunity.

GROW UP!! As an educated, evolved, and compassionate society that believes that all voices matter, early voting should seem like a no-brainer.

Or you could believe the Ehrlich position that they ONLY reason someone would want early voting is to cause fraud in the system. Obviously there couldn't possibly be any other reason.

Oh, and for the record, the polls are open from 7am to 8pm (not 9pm). Look it up.

Posted by: mdhawk | February 9, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

mdhawk,

If it's such a hassle, get an absentee ballot. I've done it for every election I've ever voted in except for two.

Posted by: MK | February 9, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we can be just like Philadelphia, where the democrat districts often get voter turnout of 107 percent...

Posted by: gitarre | February 9, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Oh, to be a Republican unencumbered by facts. Gitarre, show us one precinct ("division" in Philly) where that has ever happened. Just one.

Posted by: Maryland the Beautiful | February 9, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

MK, what you fail to realize is that absentee ballot ARE early voting. If you support any reason absentee ballots then you should have a problem with early voting. Any issues of fraud that you are so afraid of are just as viable with absentee balloting.

If you don't believe in any reason absentee balloting, and people need to provide a reason for why they need an absentee ballots (as some states have it), then your argument against early voting falls through a termite-eaten floor.

Posted by: mdhawk | February 10, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

There is absolutely no good reason to not have early voting. We should do everything in our power to make sure every citizen is able to cast a vote. Especially since we have such historically low turnout rates. This amendment needs to pass. That said, I believe strongly (and this is coming from a hard core lefty) that the Maryland GOP should have equal decision making power as to where locations of early polling places will be. I love to see Democratic mopping the floor with Republicans, but there is no glory in doing so unless everyone had equal opportunity to vote.

Posted by: InMoCo | February 10, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

This is a dangerous solution in search of a problem. As MDHawk points out, absentee voting is early voting, and now that MD has absentee voting without restriction, there's no real reason to change this system - except for the Democrat's unending quest to tilt the playing field in their favor and ensure that a Republican is never elected again in this State. Why have a fair contest when you can just rig the rules?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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