Md. voter system criticized in survey

Capital Notebook

March 10, 2006

As many as one in five voters in Maryland could be turned away from the polls because of certain restrictive standards required on voter registration applications, according to a spokesman for a national institution that studied voter databases.

A national survey released yesterday by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law found that Maryland and six other states reject voter registration applications by people whose information does not match that on the state's motor vehicles or Social Security databases.

"Maryland is among the most restrictive in the country," said Jonathan Rosen, a spokesman for the institution. "Unlike other states, Maryland doesn't offer an alternative way for voters to connect at the polls."

Other states who got the same verdict as Maryland are Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

"While good policy choices could help the voter registration process run more smoothly ... poor choices could result in the unwarranted disenfranchisement of millions of eligible citizens attempting to register to vote," the report states.

Jill Rosen

Steele to disclose funds later

The U.S. Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele said yesterday it would not provide details on the amount of money raised Wednesday night at a fund-raiser in New York City hosted by Mallory Factor, head of a conservative think tank.

Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said Steele would disclose the contributions in filings with the Federal Elections Committee, but would not provide them to the media ahead of time.

Factor is chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund, a group that most recently filed a lawsuit to overturn the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law aimed at combating corporate fraud. One member of the fund's legal team is Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor who investigated the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Steele, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has raised money through fund-raisers featuring President Bush and White House political adviser Karl Rove.

"President Bush and the national Republicans are pumping money into Michael Steele's campaign because they know Steele will support the administration's agenda in the Senate," said Oren Shur, a spokesman for Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democratic candidate for Senate. "It's that simple."

David Nitkin

Proposal freezes state tuition

Tuition at Maryland universities would be effectively frozen for one year under a budget proposal approved yesterday by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

"We have seen tuition rise 43 percent over the last couple of years," said Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, D-Montgomery, chairman of the subcommittee that developed the proposal.

There were no objections from committee members, and the proposed freeze was accepted as part of an overall plan to cut about $188 million from the budget Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. submitted to the legislature in January. The full Senate is scheduled to take up the budget and the cuts proposed by the committee next week.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and House of Delegates have been intent on freezing tuition for one year because of the sharp increases since 2002 that resulted from reductions in state aid for higher education. University officials have proposed tuition increases for next year averaging 4.5 percent.

Associated Press

House OKs appeals amendment

The House of Delegates yesterday voted to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot clarifying the rights of litigants to appeal cases decided by a panel of circuit court judges.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Michael D. Smiegel, a Cecil County Republican, said the amendment would reinstate what was routine procedure for appeals of certain circuit court cases until last year.

The amendment still requires approval by the Senate and by voters in November's general election.

Andrew A. Green

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