April 23, 2006

Voting measure just partisanship

Now that the General Assembly has concluded its session in Annapolis, we can see the damage partisanship has inflicted on our election process.

In an effort to defeat Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele this November, the Democrat majority overrode the governor's veto of an early voting bill. As passed, the law requires the election offices to open up three polling places a week before the election in each of the seven largest jurisdictions. The deck is clearly stacked against Republicans in statewide races, inasmuch as most of the early polling places will be in heavily Democrat precincts. The Democrat-controlled legislature decided that two of the three early voting places in Harford County will be south of U.S. Route 40, even though a fraction of the county's population live south of Route 40.

And not only will the polling places be located in Democrat areas, but the legislature mandated the cost of early voting will, to a large degree, be passed on to already burdened taxpayers in the various counties. For instance in Harford, this year's county budget reflects an increase of more than $160,000 just to pay for the costs of early voting.

Moreover, the legislature enacted laws permitting absentee ballots without the need to state a reason for obtaining one, and for provisional voting. Provisional voting is another disingenuous attempt to steal the election because any registered voter can cast their ballot anywhere in the state, regardless of their county of residence. It is possible under the just passed law for someone to go from county to county and vote multiple provisional ballots, which the local election offices will be required to accept.

The General Assembly could have seized the opportunity this year to actually enhance the legitimacy of the election process, such as by requiring a paper trial for electronic voting machines. However, instead of promoting a free and fair election, the changes mandated by the legislature seem to be more suited for a banana republic.

Bill Christoforo

The writer is chairman of the Republican Central Committee of Harford County

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