Transferring You Patience
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, the summer of 2010 will lend a new wrinkle to the political scene. Next year on Labor Day weekend you can celebrate by early voting.
That’s right, before you head “down the ocean,” or for the best 10 days of summer at the Maryland State Fair, you will be able to drop by your early voting center and relieve yourself of your civic duty. Cast your ballot, then head for the crabs and beer.
Maryland is joining the 31 states which allow the casting of an early ballot. Purportedly, early voting is a method of generating a greater voter turnout as well as a way to help alleviate crowded Election Day polling sites.
The theory of reducing the pressure of voting sites on Election Day, making the lines smaller and the wait for the faithful voter shorter seems logical. However, unless the public is educated and coerced into giving it a try, Election Day will still be as crowded as the ice cream line at the State Fair.
Early voting sites are being planned now. In large counties they are being located in heavy population centers with the guidelines of being handicap accessible, easy to find, with plenty of parking and secure. Almost all will be located in existing county owned facilities in an effort to save expense.
Each location will be manned by election judges and will appear to be a miniature of what you normally visit at your local polling place. Six extra days with limited hours at over 100 locations statewide is a gigantic amount of man hours invested just to capture a few extra votes.
When searching through cyber-space it is unclear, at best, if early voting has ever increased the turnout numbers in any state.
The reason is voting, early or not, is a moral obligation, a civic duty cast out of love of country and out of respect for those who sacrificed for this right. These are the votes which should reflect the values of our citizenry. An uneducated vote for early voting convenience could compound our existing problems. Just as a vote cast only from blinded party loyalty is a large part of our current problem of single-party dominance.
Maryland is viewed as one of the most corrupt states in the union. This week’s headlines were all about the mayor of our largest city on trial for stealing from needy children (Sheila Dixon was convicted on Tuesday on one count.) and taking in-kind gifts in return for city contracts. There was no true outcry from the masses about these accusations. The voting public has grown numb to this type of corruption.
The list of arrested, charged, indicted and/or convicted elected officials grows each year in Maryland. It is no longer shocking for the apathetic public. It lends to the expectations that all politicians are less than trustworthy.
Perception of those in office and the helpless feeling that one vote can’t change the system is a big reason for low voter turnout and early voting will not correct this problem. So, on your way to the beach you can vote early to reduce your wait at the polling place and only transfer your impatience to the wait at the bridge.