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October 22, 2012

Examining Voter ID Trials and Tribulations

Jill King

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court have struck down many states ID laws that were enacted in the past year. Their reasoning in the recent Pennsylvania case was that they did not allow enough time for citizens to obtain an ID in time for the 2012 election.


In Arizona, the Department of Justice is going to be sending in federal election judges to view the process, finding that voters may be disenfranchised and will be targeted by racial profiling and other means so that they cannot cast a ballot.


Voter fraud is not a new concept and has been proven at many levels, especially in Maryland.


Democratic Party nominee for the First Congressional District Wendy Rosen has dropped from the race against Representative Andy Harris for voting in the State of Florida and the State of Maryland – in the same year.


Even though the Democrats are screaming the loudest about how they are being targeted, they have also found a way around this by promoting a write-in ballot in that district.


Maryland, along with other blue states such as California, New York, and Illinois, has no voter ID laws on the books, while 30 states have a varying form of ID measurement they will be able to utilize this November. Four states will have to wait until 2013 or 2014 to enforce their upgraded ID laws.


Several states have a process where a questioned ballot can be cast, while others hand a provisional ballot to the person in question so that verification can take place.


Election laws are broken down into two levels, that of the state and those that are held at federal level. The existing voting laws are not being utilized to the fullest extent of the law.


In Maryland, the Constitution Article I and Article IV provides the General Assembly the authority to regulate or prohibit the right of a person to vote.


The Election Law Article § 3-102(b) states:


Exceptions.—An individual is not qualified to be a registered voter if the individual:


(1) has been convicted of a felony and is actually serving a court-ordered sentence of imprisonment, including any term of parole or probation, for the conviction;


(2) is under guardianship for mental disability and a court of competent jurisdiction has specifically found by clear and convincing evidence that the individual cannot communicate, with or without accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process; or


(3) has been convicted of buying or selling votes.


Section 2 is reasonable. In fact, there are those who take advantage of our disabled persons and use them for the voting process. Mental competence is an issue for many legal matters in this state. This is directly in line with The Americans with Disability Act, therefore not discriminatory.


Disabled people can also be taken advantage of in election processes; it is not a Democrat or Republican thing; it is a form of abuse.


Those who have served time in prison or jail upon a conviction for a felony may have their right to vote restored. There is a process to find out if you are eligible.


Federal law requires anyone registering to vote in our state to have a Maryland Drivers License, voter ID, or Social Security number. In Maryland, a first time voter may be asked to verify this before casting a ballot.


Another issue is domicile of college students. "A student in a Maryland Higher Institution may be allowed to vote here, dependent on the address they use most frequently on tax returns, government documents, drivers license, bank documents, charge accounts, or other purposes..."


Recently, the Frederick Board of County Commissioners have announced that they will be asking the state in their legislative package for a checks-and-balance system, by using a form nationally used in the voter ID system, when casting a ballot.


In doing so, a voter could use their registration card, utility bill, or other photo ID versus the alternative – nothing at all. No one will be turned away; those without any of the items will receive a Provisional Ballot.


This is a move in the right direction, but will need to come with more exploration into accountability of registrants, offices, and persons registering voters.


State Sen. Ron Young (D., Frederick) is looking to the future of voting online. This will ensure more problems. When Democrats are the first to say people can't afford ID's, why would they have a computer? There seems to be quite a cost difference and accessibility issues.


Reports have shown that there is currently vulnerability in the Maryland and Washington State databases for elections.


If a voter cannot get to the booth or use one of the other current means, then they should forfeit their right. In a drive through world, it is not about ease of access, it is about exercising a right and doing so in a way of thoughtfulness.


Wouldn't it be much cheaper and less tedious to get this right the first time instead of going through contested processes later on?


This is a big year for elections, but in 2014 we will be determining who will serve in many state offices including governor. Making the process fair and reasonable in the meantime may aid in not having to backpedal before causing injury of those who spent countless hours and money to achieve their civil duty.


It is not just these small items but the adherence of the bigger items that would benefit all of us, when following the election law as written.


Volunteers have spent countless hours going through election rolls and aiding state paid personnel in their duties, in order to have a fair process here in Maryland.


The fact is that this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; there has been proven voter fraud on both sides of the aisle.


It is now time for a comprehensive review of the registration and voting process to ensure free and fair elections for all voters. We can start by following the rules provided.


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


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