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Ehrlich chastises state on military voting request

Ehrlich veterans.jpgFormer Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) took aim Thursday at the state's decision to seek a waiver from a new federal law that requires mailing absentee ballots to overseas military personnel at least 45 days before an election, a measure meant to ensure those votes are counted.

Flanked by several military veterans and using the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis as a backdrop, Ehrlich called the waiver request "pitiful," "embarrassing," "disgraceful" and disrespectful of soldiers from Maryland who are now "crawling through caves in Afghanistan."

"We shouldn't have to be here today," said Ehrlich, who is seeking to win his job back from Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). "Maybe we can embarrass the O'Malley campaign into doing the right thing."

The state's waiver application makes its case with dispassionate math. There are only 48 days between Maryland's September primaries and its November general election, according to a letter to federal officials from the Maryland State Board of Elections. The state's primary results do not become official until 35 days before the general election, and the general election ballot is not approved until 28 days before the election.

"I, as Maryland's chief election official, have determined that the state is unable to meet the 45-day mailing requirement for the 2010 General Election due to an undue hardship," says the letter from Linda Lamone, the state's elections administrator, which also details steps the state is taking to make it easier for overseas military personnel to vote.

O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell said that other states with September primaries are also seeking waivers from the federal law -- which he said would require moving the primary date to comply.

"Governor O'Malley always stands behind our men and women in uniform, and will protect their ability to have their voices heard in this and every election," Russell said.

Russell said he also found it "strange to see Bob Ehrlich try to make an issue of voting rights, after his legendary dirty tricks four years ago sought to disenfranchise Marylanders for his own political gain."

Russell said he was referring in part to glossy fliers handed out on Election Day in predominantly African-American precincts. Under the headline "Democratic Sample Ballot" were boxes checked in red for Ehrlich and then-U.S. Senate candidate Michael S. Steele, who were not identified as Republicans.

Among the military veterans who joined Ehrlich at Thursday's event were his father and George W. Owings III, who served as veterans affairs secretary when Ehrlich was governor. Owings, a former state delegate from Southern Maryland, announced a bid this year to challenge O'Malley in the Democratic primary but backed out citing health problems.

Ehrlich also brushed aside a question from a reporter at the event about the decision of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to endorse his GOP rival, Brian Murphy. Ehrlich called the endorsement "not terribly relevant to anything."

--John Wagner

By John Wagner  |  August 6, 2010; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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Ehrlich also brushed aside a question from a reporter at the event about the decision of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to endorse his GOP rival, Brian Murphy. Ehrlich called the endorsement "not terribly relevant to anything."

It's relevant to the fact that Murphy is going to beat Ehrlich in the primary.

Posted by: MarilynManson | August 6, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

First of all, there's no one going out of their way to link the New Black Panther Party's voter intimidation tactics to Democrats, so I find it a little hypocritical to blame the actions of groups not directly linked to the Ehrlich campaign for passing out some bogus fliers. If you're not informed enough to know what party your candidate is affiliated with, you shouldn't bother voting anyway.

Under the MD Democrats, you can now vote early (and often) if you have trouble making the 3 block walk to the polling station on election day. But if you're serving overseas in the military, O'Malley and the MD Democrats want to LESSEN the absentee voting window. Nice.

No one really cares about Sarah Palin's endorsements. She's a sacrificial lamb offered up by the GOP to the media to give them someone to assassinate-and they've done a great job at it too. Bob's right, the endorsement isn't "terribly relevant to anything". If I were an O'Malley supporter, I'd be more concerned with the general election. Not the MD GOP primaries.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | August 6, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ehrlich is right to say we should try to make it easier for overseas personnel to vote. At the same time, as the law currently stands, a waiver is pretty much a necessity.

Final analysis: the voting procedures need to be changed, but Ehrlich is wrong to try to make this into some kind of failure of the O'Malley administration.

Posted by: krickey7 | August 6, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

And what is this obsession with the Black Panther Party among Republicans? They are a ridicuously tiny group with zero ties to the Democratic party. Several of them--heck, maybe they were the entire BPP--got into an altercation with a white Republican Party operative at a Philadelphia polling location. They were wrong to do so, and the Obama administration obtained an injunction against the one who made threats. There was, however, insufficient proof that they interfered with any voters (the Republican operative was not a voter at that polling location).

This is your conspiracy of racial favoritism? It's more an indictment of how the entire right wing takes its marching orders from Fox and Rush.

Posted by: krickey7 | August 6, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Murphy with his Palin endorsement is riding the wave of the tea party. that wave was a big part of ehrlichs hope of winning and breaking his losing streak.
that can't happen now that Murphy got the endorsement and ehrlichs very nomination is in jeopardy.
For months the erhlich campaign has been talking about this as a rematch with O'Malley as if erhlichs republican nomination was a done deal.
Now they are talking as if Palins endorsement of Murphy doesn't matter at all.
Ehrlich hasn't won anything yet and he can't win the republican primary unless most of Palin's republican supporters ignore her endorsement of Murphy.
Ehrlichs over confidence and ego will be his downfall.

Posted by: MarilynManson | August 6, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"Final analysis: the voting procedures need to be changed, but Ehrlich is wrong to try to make this into some kind of failure of the O'Malley administration."

krickey7, that might be your final analysis but come on, O'Malley (like most politicians in Annapolis) has a law degree. He's a smart guy, right? Why are we only just discovering in August of an election year that there's election timelines that are at odds with Federal law? But then again, which Federal laws are you supposed to uphold, follow and enforce anyway?? What a dilemma.

Posted by: Digitalman08 | August 6, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Fine, make it a priority to change the law (which only the legislature can do). But that's not Ehrlich's beef. His beef is the waiver, and that is misguided.

Posted by: krickey7 | August 6, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Palins endorsement means less then zero. You Dems can only hope and pray that Murphy wins the primay that way O'Malley does not get his clock cleaned in the November election by Ehrlich.

Posted by: cheverly1 | August 6, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

If Erhlich thought these service personnel would vote Democrat, he wouldn't be saying a thing.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 6, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Bob you're supposedly a Princeton and a Gilman grad --

do the freaking math for yourself!

don't make political noise when it's unwarranted...

don't be a buffoon when it comes to politics...

it's no wonder you had MICHAEL STEELE AS YOUR LT GOVERNATOR...


Posted by: FranknErnest | August 7, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

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