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September 26, 2012

Ballot: More Than You Expected

Norman M. Covert

Surprise! Surprise! Faithful electorate! It is understandable if you thought we were only going to elect a new president November 6th. There is so much more for which you are being asked to cast Yea or Nay ballots.


The other candidates and referenda facing your verdict have been reduced to background noise with the presidential campaign bickering, sniping and misinforming. Turn off the radio and television; hit “2” or “3” on your phone when it rings and it might stop the robo-calls; take your mailings straight to the trash.


I learned early about the huckstering business: The medium is the “mas-sage.” Slick and slimy has come to characterize a lot of what we are seeing.


It is no certainty that this scribe can help you with the vagaries of the ballot, but with deference and respect for the League of Women Voters, I am willing to have a go at it. Be ready for a 12-page ballot at the normal size type, more if you increase font size.


I should start with the second tier of voting and note that former guru of the Maryland State House and incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D., MD) is facing off against Republican Daniel Bongino, of Anne Arundel County, and Libertarian Dean Ahmad, of Montgomery County. I will forego the write-in candidates, who are not on the ballot.


Our “Favorite Son” incumbent Roscoe Bartlett (R., 6th) is being challenged in the new version of our congressional district by Montgomery County Democrat John Delaney and Libertarian Nicholaus Mueller, a stranger to most of us, but he’s a valid candidate and deserves some consideration.


The reconfigured 8th Congressional District includes most of Frederick County and surrounds The City of Frederick. It offers the likes of Democrat Golden Boy Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D., 8th) who has been in the House of Representatives since 2003. A resident of Kensington, he is opposed by Republican Ken Timmerman, Libertarian Mark Grannis and Greenie George Cluck, all Montgomery County citizens. We don’t stand a chance in this one


A vocal minority has verbally abused the Frederick County Board of Education ad nauseum about curricula, personal and professional behavior and its sins of omission and commission. It will get down to name recognition and name rejection.


Consider the school board candidates for three seats. They are Zakir Bengali, Tony Chmelik, Colleen Cusimano, Kathryn B. (Katie) Groth), Joe Schaefer and Tom Shade. Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Shade withdrew last week with health concerns, too late to remove his name from the ballot.


The hot items, however, come through statewide referenda:


·        Question A is whether Frederick County will adopt a change in government to a charter form with a powerful county executive, which voters probably still have not embraced. I’m glad it comes up first.


·        The so-called “Dream Act” is next. It is described as an “exemption on tuition rates” to state institutions, but doesn’t clarify the exemption is for illegal (or unregistered) immigrants. It gives them the right to pay in-state tuition, a complicated and wrong action by the Democrat controlled Maryland General Assembly.


·        Next asks voters to approve the crazy quilt boundaries redrawn for all eight Congressional Districts. The former 6th District boundaries now encompass less than half of Frederick County, retains a portion of Washington, plus all of Alleghany and Garret counties and tosses in a significant slice of Montgomery County. The gerrymandered district is intended to dilute the strong Republican majority of Frederick County.


It is understood that if voters throw out the new district boundaries, the decision will have no effect on the current congressional race results. It will have to wait until the next election in 2014.


·        The General Assembly also hopes you will not understand the wording regarding the “Civil Marriage Protection Act” and affirm its passage. The act changes the definition of marriage to include same-sex rites (both in-state and reciprocity with other states) in lieu of “civil unions,” and affords full marriage rights for “partners.”


·        And the fifth referendum item (actually Question 7 on the ballot) asks permission to institute state wider-ranging gaming laws to allow video lottery terminals and tables games/machines. The money is said to be for education, but they said that last time and the money never showed up in school board budgets. Buyer beware!


You also will be asked to vote on judicial appointments for the state and Judicial Circuit 06 Judge William R. Nicklas, Jr., of Frederick. It is likely you will also be voting on some issues for other counties in Maryland which have commissioner forms of government.


Be sure to read every page and option to ensure your vote counts.


A critical date for you may be October 16, last day to register or change your party affiliation. You don’t want to have to cast a provisional ballot.


My professional advice is to get out your Davey Crockett cap and follow the advice attributed to our Tennessee/Alamo hero: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead!”


I can’t top that.


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