Bill would remedy error made on some ballots

January 17, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland lawmakers plan to correct a technical mistake in state law that kept thousands of South County residents from voting for candidates for the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee in the September primary.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and Del. George W. Owings have introduced bills in the General Assembly that would add a seat on the committee for voters in districts that fall partially outside Anne Arundel County.

In the September primary, at least 2,000 to 3,000 Democratic voters from Shady Side, Friendship, Deale and other southern Anne Arundel towns could not vote for a central committee member because their ballots were outdated and did not reflect changes made during the last round of redistricting, said Sheryl E. Banks, a Democratic Central Committee member for District 30.

The voters are in a new district that stretches from the southern part of Anne Arundel into Calvert County. But the district, called 27B, was never entered on the ballots for the primary, and no central committee candidates appeared.

"These people deserve representation," said Ms. Banks, who represents the Annapolis area. "They shouldn't suffer because of a clerical error."

In a letter to Democratic Central Committee members last month, Mr. Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, railed against the "terrible oversight" that kept some voters from casting ballots for the central committee.

Mr. Owings is a Calvert County Democrat whose district includes the southern Anne Arundel communities.

A central committee is a party's administrative arm, responsible for replacing General Assembly members who leave in the middle of their terms, increasing party membership and running local political activities.

The county's Democratic Central Committee could have corrected the mistake, but some members were reluctant to give the southern half of the county an extra vote, Ms. Banks said.

The membership is evenly divided between North and South County representatives, and adding a representative for the residents of 27B would upset that balance.

"Unfortunately everything is power-driven," said Ms. Banks, who represents the district that stretches south from the Annapolis area. "The issue came up, and there was not full support for it."

The county's Republican Central Committee voted to add a member from the new district, although it has not enacted that policy and did not elect an additional representative in the last election.

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