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June 4, 2012

Keeping voters and those elected honest

Jill King

The non-partisan group, Election Integrity Maryland (EIM) has announced that they have 828 challenges to the voter rolls of Baltimore County; only 1700 voter’s registrations have been researched thus far.


These inconsistencies include duplicate registrations, invalid addresses, and deceased voters who remain on the voter rolls.


According to Election Integrity Maryland President Cathy Kelleher: “We are pleased to assist the Board of Elections by submitting these challenges. By law, the Board is required to keep registration records current. Our work is intended to help with that effort.”


In February, a list was submitted to Montgomery County with similar results. Election Integrity Maryland intends to file in more counties in the near future.


Election Integrity Maryland is the local name for a nationwide challenge group which started in Texas two years ago. True to Vote has swept the country and has educated the citizenry on finding flaws in areas where voter registration policy is either ignored or unattended. Currently there are 37 states participating.


Specific trainings include poll watchers and researchers, who use a Maryland database to find errors in the voter rolls and submit the results to the organization’s state leader, who then assigns a county resident to submit the challenges to the local boards.


“Poll watchers are trained to look for irregularities in persons at the voting sites on Election Day, such as election judges advising voters on how to vote, or when a voter tries to obtain a ballot but is not on the rolls for that particular polling location,” according to Catharine Trauernicht, of Election Integrity Maryland.


Data researchers are a little different, working from home and at their own leisure. Their job is to look at the registrations and find inconsistencies. One example is signatures irregularities by those who aided the registrant. This was found to be a large problem in many areas, especially when ACORN was signing up new voters.


Researchers look for people who are registered at a vacant lot or at a business. They also look to see how many are registered at one address. None of these are illegal, but they are questionable.


Maryland stands firm that its Board of Elections keeps the voter rolls up to date. Clearly with almost half of the Baltimore’s 1700 registrants researched being challenged, we wonder if there is a need for more stringent rules, including having to provide an ID to vote.


Maryland Election Law Code Ann. § 3-504 designates the process for the checks and balances system used to remove the voters from the rolls upon death, felony conviction, name changes by decree or order, along with current addresses. Specified agencies are to report the information to the state administrator for the Election Board.


The state administrator is to then provide the local boards the information they have received. Once the information is verified, the local board is supposed to remove the voter’s name from the voter rolls.


For several years, Maryland has been lax and ignored bills from legislators to mandate ID’s for voting. A large number of Democrats have stated that there is no need for such mandates and that this is targeting our elderly and poverty stricken citizens.


The ridiculous notion that Republicans want to keep people from expressing their opinion through voting is just hype. Poor and elderly does not mean Democrat votes. In many areas, it is quite the opposite.


Clearly we are seeing now, through this “watchdog” effort, that the process of maintaining a correct and precise voter roll is not as efficient as it was intended to be.


With 48.7% of the 1700 voter registrants currently researched in Baltimore County being of questionable status and challenged by Election Integrity Maryland, there is a new question. If there are even 20% more voters on the rolls than actual, how much are the required number of signature to take an issue to referendum skewered?


If the petition numbers are shy by a few hundred, the sponsors should appeal to the court system with this as evidence. State workers should be held accountable for enforcing rules; lateral powers should uphold citizen’s protections from tyranny.


With the recent gerrymandering of the Congressional Districts in Maryland, as well as the state legislative districts, there are potentially thousands of persons not voting from their home address.


Maryland needs to implement a better and more accountable system.


A business is not a home and should not be a legitimate voter applicant address. Residence needs to be defined in one manner in Maryland, not the various arrays of possibilities that each agency deems appropriate.


Before the state makes obtaining voters registrations easier, via the web, they need to fix the problems it already has. Consistency, integrity, and accountability, along with transparency, should be its guiding force.


Maryland apparently wishes to remain ignorant of the crimes against the citizens that they are perpetuating by ignoring the implementation of better checks and balances system.


There is no way the people of Maryland are being represented properly if the government refuses to acknowledge the problems. How many other agencies are providing tax relief or programs to deceased persons, or those who live in other states or counties currently? What are the costs to taxpayers and voters? Can we afford to keep legislators in office who do not lead by example?


Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with my past…


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