Truing the vote: Maryland bills of interest

February 16, 2015 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Maryland Politics, Politics · 1 Comment 

By Cathy Keim.

I received a mass email from Delegate Neil Parrott a couple of days ago and he mentioned a Voter ID bill that he was introducing this session. I decided to check out what voter integrity bills were listed so far. There were three that were particularly interesting to me.

The first one concerns Voter ID (HB1017) and is sponsored by Delegate Neil Parrott. Among the co-sponsors are our own local delegates, Mary Beth Carozza and Charles Otto. Its summary reads:

Requiring an election judge to establish a voter’s identity and verify the voter’s address if the voter seeks to vote a regular ballot; requiring an election judge to qualify a voter by requesting the voter to present a current government-issued photo identification; requiring an election judge to authorize an individual to vote a regular ballot; allowing a voter who is unable to present a specified form of identification to vote by provisional ballot under specified circumstances; etc.

It is just common sense that we should know that the person voting is who he says he is. While this is less of a problem in Wicomico County where the election judges are likely to know you by name, it still encourages the citizens’ confidence in the system when they know that IDs are checked. The bill includes a provision for the citizen that forgets their ID to still vote provisionally. They can provide the ID after the election.

HB1076 concerns proof of citizenship to vote and is also sponsored by Delegate Parrott. The summary reads:

Requiring individuals who apply to register to vote after June 30, 2015, to submit proof of United States citizenship; providing that individuals who are not citizens of the United States are not qualified to be registered voters; requiring an applicant for voter registration to submit specified documents or information to prove United States citizenship; etc.

Currently, when a person registers to vote in Maryland, the Voter Registration Form has a two-part question:

Are you at least 16 years old?  Yes No
Are you a U.S. citizen?  Yes No

IF you answer NO to either question, do not complete this form.

It clearly states in bold letters to not proceed if you are not old enough or are not a citizen. That is the only thing that keeps a non-citizen from registering. The local board of elections cannot check an applicant for citizenship and now the Washington Times reports:

President Obama’s temporary deportation amnesty will make it easier for illegal immigrants to improperly register and vote in elections, state elections officials testified to Congress on Thursday, saying that the driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers they will be granted create a major voting loophole.

But don’t worry:

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said he doubted illegal immigrants would risk running afoul of the law — which could get them deported — just to be an insignificant part of an election. (Emphasis mine.)

Never mind that we have an elected public official denigrating the responsibility of each citizen to vote. How can he be sure that it is an insignificant number? It could certainly be enough to swing close elections, especially on the local level. Every illegal vote cancels out a legitimate vote.

The final bill of interest is HB253, sponsored by Delegate Pat McDonough. The summary reads:

Requiring the State Board of Elections to execute a memorandum of agreement to participate in the Interstate Crosscheck Program for purposes of identifying possible duplicate voter registration records and instances of individuals who voted more than once in the same election; requiring the State Board to utilize the data obtained through the Interstate Crosscheck Program for specified purposes; etc.

This bill makes great sense. We have our own local evidence that some citizens break the voter laws. Wendy Rosen was the Democrat candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in 2012. She had to withdraw when it was discovered that she had voted in both Florida and Maryland in the 2006 and 2010 elections. She pleaded guilty and reached a plea agreement for five years of probation and a $5,000 fine for her illegal voting. It is unlikely that this would have been discovered had she not been a high profile candidate.

No matter how valid the concerns of the citizens of Maryland that their elections are not being protected by reasonable precautions, the Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are likely to agree with another Democrat quoted in the same Washington Times news article:

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting member of Congress, accused Republicans of an effort at voter suppression.

“The president’s executive order gives immigrants the right to stay — immigrants who have been here for years, immigrants who have been working hard and whose labor we have needed,” Ms. Norton said. “The Republicans may want to go down in history as the party who tried once again 100 years later to nullify the right to vote. Well, I am here to say they shall not succeed.”

This is the usual method that is used to avoid addressing the real concerns of voter integrity. First, Ms. Norton says that the immigrants have been here for years and that they have been working hard – neither of which are necessarily true, then tops those with the winning claim about needing their labor. We have millions of Americans out of work and yet we need illegal immigrants to do those jobs? Then she switches gears to decry the Republicans as the party who wants to nullify the right to vote. Excuse me, but wasn’t it the Democrats that were in charge when black citizens were being excluded from voting by Jim Crow laws?

Since the voter fraud deniers cannot come up with valid reasons not to secure our voter integrity, they just lie about our history.

It is unlikely that these voter integrity bills will pass because there are too many people in power that are committed to blocking any and all reasonable measures.  That alone should make you wonder why?

2014 Maryland dossier: part 2 (campaign finance)

My original thought was to do campaign finance and illegal immigration together, but I changed my mind and will do them separately.

It’s not exactly the most glamorous of subjects, but campaign finance and election reform is a pet subject of mine. Unfortunately, not much attention is being paid to it yet on the 2014 front. So this severely limited portion of my dossier covers (briefly) just two of three candidates.

**********

David Craig: I will appoint an inspector general to investigate cases of fraud in the voter rolls at the State Board of Elections. (campaign website)

Ron George: Enforcing the Campaign Finance Reform laws I helped put into place. (campaign website)

I have nothing yet from Charles Lollar.

**********

Once again I can use my book as a reference to show where I stand on the issue. (I really wasn’t meaning to be self-serving like that, but it only makes sense as a gauge of where I come from.) There are four main points which translate to state elections:

  • Adoption of a photo voter identification, to be presented at the ballot (or a copy enclosed with an absentee ballot)
  • A paper trail for voting
  • Abolition of early voting – one Election Day and absentee ballots are enough
  • Campaign finance reform

On the last point, allow me to elaborate further:

Personally I think any and all contribution limits should be abolished and the process freed up as much as practical for American citizens. (Contributions by foreign nationals are and should remain a no-no.) But with that carrot comes the stick of daily and accessibly reporting any and all contributions to a particular campaign. So if AFSCME gives $50 million to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, within 24 hours anyone in the pajamas media can say, hey, AFSCME members, look what your union dues are paying for. If the trial lawyers’ association gives $20 million to Obama, we can immediately follow the money and ask what the quid pro quo is there? Obviously the situation holds true as well if the national Chamber of Commerce gives $15 million to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, or whoever the GOP standard-bearer may be.

Obviously this would make the job of campaign treasurer a full-time one for statewide races, but then again removing the campaign limits may allow it to be a position with a salary or stipend.

So I was disappointed to see the lack of attention to what should be a vital issue, particularly in Maryland.

For example, I like David Craig and his idea, although this would have to be done by an executive order – hell will freeze over before the Democrats in the General Assembly go along – and just wait until Eric Holder finds out about it. But since it’s only one idea, albeit a good one, I can only award 1 point of 3.

On the other hand, Ron George (along with two Democrat delegates) co-sponsored the campaign finance reform bill in question, which weighs in at 60-plus pages. Most of it indeed doesn’t take effect until January, 2015, but this is also the bill which (unwisely, I thought) moved the filing deadline up to February. I don’t know if that was Ron’s idea, but I’ll withhold judgment on the overall law aside from saying that raising the legal contribution limits is a small step in the right direction. But if they were going to tinker with things like this, they should have added a provision exempting unpaid party positions from campaign finance law. So no points.

I’m sure Charles Lollar will eventually have something to say, but thus far he’s been silent on these issues. No points for him, either.

Even the Democrats had nothing to say about it; then again I’m sure they like the system as it is. I think it needs improvement.

So now I will address illegal immigration in my next segment.

One last weekend…

November 2, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Campaign 2012 - President, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, National politics, Ohio politics, Politics · Comments Off on One last weekend… 

…and everyone wants help! Many of those appeals come from giving the national campaigns a hand in Ohio and Virginia.

(Update: read to the end for vital new information.)

For example, the Maryland GOP (on behalf of Mitt Romney) is going to those battleground states. But they’re also backing events in Harford, Montgomery, Washington, Cecil, and Queen Anne’s counties as well. Most will be Saturday, although the Harford event runs through Monday and the Queen Anne’s sign waving is later this afternoon.

And for those on the Shore who may want to help in Virginia, my friend Melody Scalley is organizing her own Saturday’s worth of activities in several Tidewater-area locations: Norfolk, Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake. It looks like they’ll be canvassing in 2-3 hour shifts during the day Saturday and one shift in Norfolk on Sunday afternoon. As before, you can contact her at (703) 258-4200 to help out.

Since the extended early voting comes to an end today, volunteers can shift from the polling places out to the neighborhoods.

There’s also been an important change in absentee balloting. An Executive Order signed by Governor O’Malley states:

Registered voters who are out of their county of residence due to Hurricane Sandy are authorized to apply for an absentee ballot up to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 5, 2012. The State Board of Elections is authorized to electronically deliver absentee ballots to such voters. Completed ballots must be mailed on or before Election Day and received by the local board of elections no later than November 16, 2012.

So those displaced by Sandy will be treated similarly to military voters.

While I’m thinking about voting, here’s more to ponder:

It appears that about 1 in 10 voters overall will opt to vote early, despite the loss of two days earlier this week. Through Wednesday a little over 225,000 voters had already voted early. Compare that to just 11,793 total absentee ballots requested throughout the state.

It’s interesting to note as well that as of Wednesday 41% of Democratic absentee ballots had come back, compared with 34% of Republicans and 31% of unaffiliated. Democrats also have the upper hand insofar as early voting goes, as 7.4% of them statewide have made their choices compared to 4.9% of Republicans and 3 to 4 percent of unaffiliated and minor party members.

What this could mean on election night is that ballot questions and Democratic officeseekers will probably grab an early lead because these votes are actually counted during the day and released right after the polls close. So issues like gay marriage and in-state tuition for illegal aliens may have a seemingly insurmountable 60-40 lead early on, but as rural precincts tend to come in first those leads should evaporate – even as early voting covers about 10% of the electorate, in a Presidential year turnout in Maryland runs around 60 to 70 percent. In both instances, though, it may be a long night.

Update: There is another non-political – but certainly more important – volunteer effort going on tomorrow morning. This comes from my former local blogging cohort Julie Brewington, with emphasis mine:

Please come and help our Neighbors in Crisfield to Recover from Hurricane Sandy TOMORROW!

Please come dress in work attire, waterproof boots, and gloves. Bring a rake if you have one.

Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. – Crisfield City Hall Parking lot, 319 W. Main St.

Even if you don’t have any equipment or special skills, we can use your help. To volunteer you should be physically fit and able to do manual labor. Water will be provided, but be prepared to work on sites that do not have basic sanitary services or utilities.

We will endeavor to select sites that are safe, but you must use your own common sense to protect yourself from dangers such as falling trees, submerged holes, and the general danger of being on a worksite with other untrained, unskilled volunteers. You assume all responsibility for your safety by volunteering and we will ask you to sign a release of liability of the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce, the City of Crisfield and the homeowner or property owner we are helping before assigning you to a work crew.

Equipment and skills we need

If you do have skills or equipment, we are in need of the following equipment along with persons who know how to use them:

Chainsaws
Large pickup trucks
Skillsaws
Power drills
Axes
Rakes
Plywood
Gloves
Gasoline for chainsaws

Supplies Needed (Drop Off At The Ambulance Squad Coming Into Town)

Bleach and cleaning supplies (mops, buckets, etc)
Household goods
Gently used clothing
Respirators
Portable Heaters
Blankets
Contractor clean up bags or large black trash bags
Bottled water
Rakes
Plywood
Gloves
Gasoline for chainsaws

Mold Removal is Needed. Please visit this site for Mold Removal Kits, with Household supplies and bring them if you can.

Saturday Volunteers are asked to print and bring signed release.

We will have blank release forms, but anyone wishing to volunteer tomorrow is asked to (sign a) volunteer release form to participate in our cleanup effort. We need to keep track of our volunteer ours for disaster relief purposes. Thank you!

Odds and ends number 56

I have a veritable catch-all of little feature items best handled in a paragraph or two, so I’ll get cracking!

First of all is an important update from the state Board of Elections with the ballot language for the seven statewide issues as well as a number of local questions (including four from Wicomico County.)

At first read, it doesn’t appear there’s any effort to deceive people into voting in a counter-intuitive manner (e.g. voting for an issue to repeal a particular law.) It appears that those who want to repeal certain laws would indeed vote against them at the ballot box.

I am a little concerned about the way Question 6 is worded, though. Here’s how the same-sex marriage bill is presented:

Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

Of the seven questions the state presents to voters, this is the longest. Actually, if you removed the first clause it’s not a bad law but the part about gay and lesbian couples is a non-starter, which is probably why that language was added – people will say, oh, okay, the churches don’t have to participate. But that’s not the point, and the additional language obfuscates it.

I also wonder why the term “same-sex” wasn’t used. With the possible exception of Question 3, it’s just going to be down-the-line “against” for me. But on a local level, I’m all for two of the proposed changes – not quite sure about the last two questions quite yet.

I’m very disappointed, though, that the term limits proposal for the County Executive did not make it through County Council. Apparently several Republicans don’t have the spine to return the county to a citizen-based power structure, ensuring no individual would run the county for more than eight years. I guess we will have to primary them, won’t we?

Of course, last night the County Council heard testimony about the county’s redistricting plan for a work session today. I happen to think the plan put in place by the Redistricting Committee is quite sound and well thought out because it uses a number of significant natural and man-made boundaries (like U.S. 50) to define districts as well as making change easier in the future.

But scuttlebutt I’m hearing is that a second plan is in the works; one which will be more favorable to certain incumbents on County Council. While it’s true that about 1/4 of the county’s population is displaced by the Redistricting Committee’s plan, the goal is to establish more permanent district boundaries which won’t change as much in future years. One thing I like about the Redistricting Committee’s plan is how it keeps most of the communities together – obviously Salisbury has to be divided into at least two districts based on population and this map puts the heart of the city into either District 1 (the majority-minority district) or District 4. (Since I began work on this post last night, I have learned there is a second plan, drawn up by a county employee. While I haven’t seen it, my impression is that it’s closer to the old map.)

Speaking of elections, this tidbit came to me from Cathy Keim of Election Integrity Maryland. It’s “even better than being a poll watcher” and it goes right to the heart of the problem.

I asked Anthony Gutierrez, our local BOE head, if you have to be registered in the county that you serve as an election judge.  He said no.  As long as you are a Maryland registered voter, you can be an election judge in any county that hires you.  He also stated that Baltimore has a terrible time recruiting enough Republican and non-partisan election judges.  The goal is to have one chief judge from each major party at each polling place.  If they cannot do that, then they try to get a non-partisan judge.  If they can’t do that……then it just has to be two of the same party!  This holds for regular judges also.

Being an election judge is even better than being a poll watcher as you are actually running the election. Please bring this up to the GOP that they need to be filling these positions in Baltimore and PG County and maybe other counties.  I know that this is a regular problem, so the GOP should already be aware of it, but it never hurts to get people working on a solution sooner rather than later.

In Wicomico County we only have about 38 precincts, so presumably they only need 38 election judges from each party.  But if you’re armed with the poll watcher training and are an election judge in a “problem” county it’s indeed possible to give the Democrats fits by insisting the letter of the law be followed.

Apparently they’re not going to follow the letter of the law in Tampa during the Republican convention. If you believe the Accuracy in Media group and writer Tina Trent, agitators funded by radical left-wingers including George Soros are plotting to disrupt the proceedings – of course, they’ll get plenty of press coverage if they succeed. Meanwhile, during the next week there are going to be protests in Charlotte at the Democrats’ shindig (some by unions bitterly disappointed the convention is being held in a right-to-work state) but you won’t hear a peep.

The President’s campaign also has the laughable idea that seeing five years of Mitt Romney’s tax returns are enough. This is part of a missive from Obama For Against America’s Jim Messina:

Friday morning, I sent a letter to Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, asking that Romney release just five years of tax returns. And I made a commitment that, if he does, this campaign would not demand more.

You should add your name. Here’s why:

Right now, our opponent is proposing a $2,000 tax increase on middle-class families with kids in order to pay for tax breaks for millionaires like him.

He’s asking Americans to put him in charge of their taxes, while refusing to come clean about his own.

This isn’t going away because voters deserve better, and everyone but the Romney campaign seems to recognize that.

(snip)

Romney’s refusal to release his returns is raising more questions than he’s been willing to answer.

According to the one full year of returns he has released, Romney paid 13.9% in taxes on his income. Thursday, he said he went back and looked, and has never paid less than 13% over the last ten years.

Now we’re asking him to put his money where his mouth is.

It is absolutely relevant for us to ask how much a presidential candidate paid in taxes, if he sheltered his money or tried to get out of paying taxes at all, why he started — and continues to own — a corporation offshore in Bermuda, why he keeps his finances offshore in the Cayman Islands, and why he opened a Swiss bank account.

(snip)

This issue isn’t going away, and for good reason. Tell Romney to follow 30 years of precedent and release his tax returns.

Next thing you know, they’ll be asking for ten years’ worth. Meanwhile, we don’t have any of Obama’s college records, never mind the whole birth certificate thing. Of course, anyone can Photoshop any sort of “fake but accurate” documents they want, but that’s not the point, either.

I truly don’t give a damn whether Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account or money in the Cayman Islands. It’s his money and he can do as he pleases with it. And paying almost 14% of his taxes on his income? Just ask an average American who scores a big tax refund check, complete with earned income credit, what rate he or she paid and I’ll bet the answer may surprise you. Sorry, Jim Messina, that class warfare card is no good here.

That’s Obama’s America. And to that effect a movie will be shown locally beginning Friday – showtimes are here, and the trailer is below.

I may have to go see this one, and I am not a movie buff.

I’m going to close with a little encouragement from a fellow blogger – Marianne (aka Zilla of the Resistance) has been through a lot with her late stage Lyme Disease. Well, not only has she found improvement with some of her most painful symptoms of late, she’s also received some cheering news from the Mitt Romney camp as he’s making what Marianne terms a “bold stand” against those medical professionals skeptical of some possible treatments for the disease. (Maryland is one area affected more heavily than most.) Perhaps there’s light at the end of the tunnel for her, and it’s not an oncoming train.

The light at the end of this post is also here, but it’s only the next post down. I encourage you to keep reading.

Hypocrisy at its finest

July 26, 2012 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2012, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off on Hypocrisy at its finest 

You can pull the yellow flag out of your back pocket and fire it in my direction because I’m about to be assessed a 15-yard penalty for piling on. But it will be worth it.

As many of you already know, five plaintiffs, who are all connected to the state Democratic party in some manner, along with the Maryland Democratic Party itself filed a complaint yesterday against the State Board of Elections. The Maryland Democrats are eviscerated by Richard CrossBrian Griffiths and Jim Jamitis (who steals a little bit of my thunder) as well.

Jamitis brings up a topic I was thinking about, too: the same party who haughtily vows through this court case that it’s “committed to insuring confidence in (the) petition process” is dead-set against insuring confidence in the voting process itself by fighting tooth and nail against photo voter identification, even when the state gives it out for free.

Yet there is something strange about the plaintiffs’ contention. Their assertion is that a certain number of petition signatures are invalid because they were signed off a form created by MDPetitions.com which had the voter’s information already printed out – it wasn’t in handwritten form, they argue, and that makes the signature invalid.

This evening I did a little research. I went to my wallet, rifled through it a little bit around the moths which have gathered there because after the high taxes these same Democrats have enacted there’s nothing left in it but the moths’ remains, and found a voter registration card. It’s a card which bears my signature, along with my pre-printed name and address, among other vital information. And it seems to me, if memory serves, that every time I go to vote I sign my name next to the pre-printed information on the registration sheet.

So, Maryland Democrats, are you telling me my vote is invalid because I signed these pre-printed forms? I understand you probably don’t like the fact that I use a little common sense and vote for those who possess same – which naturally disqualifies about 95 percent or more of your party – but the last time I checked, my vote counted for something. It seemed to help elect several of the now-majority Republicans in local offices around Maryland.

I am hoping that a court of competent jurisdiction looks at this complaint, laughs, and places it in File 13. If Joseph Sandler is a party to any lawsuit we can bet it’s not in the best interests of the voters of Maryland since he also tried to get the in-state tuition for illegal aliens referendum tossed out, too. But because the number of signatures was close to the line and Maryland Democrats can’t stand the idea that someone might question their gerrymandering, they’re going to this well once again. They’ve learned from their President that if you can’t beat ’em, get ’em thrown off the ballot by whatever means necessary.

So the next time Maryland Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to suppress voting, just remind them that they’ve challenged two of the three ballot issues petitioned to referendum in an effort to prevent voters from having their say and possibly overturning these laws. (The only reason they didn’t try and knock out the third was the overwhelming support it received, gathering nearly three times the required signatures.) If you’re so confident of victory over “a declining party who has abandoned all hopes of winning elections” (forgetting again that the GOP holds more local offices than they do) then you should have nothing to fear, right?

Redistricting petition: the end is in sight

I don’t like to stack posts on top of each other, so I’ll keep this short: as of this Tuesday evening, the Board of Elections has certified that 53,566 of the 60,266 signatures counted so far by the BOE on the referendum petition for Congressional districts are valid, leaving 5,456 to be counted. Of those, 2,170 or more need to be acceptable for the referendum to qualify. While the rejection rate has been higher on this petition than on the other two MDPetitions.com has sponsored over the last two years, it still should come out in the range of 58,000 valid signatures and that would be enough to place the referendum on the ballot.

Of course, it’s likely the validity of many signatures will be challenged by those same Democrats who came up with one of the most gerrymandered schemes in the country, one designed to shortchange both Republicans and minorities while protecting their incumbents. If the petition is beaten back, it will be up to the GOP to make the point to affected communities that the Maryland Democratic Party is the sole reason that they are being hosed.

Updates will follow.

Odds and ends number 44

Now this is starting to get confusing, since two of my long-running post series are up to the same number. But the way my inbox is presently filling up, I suspect “Odds and ends” will be well ahead of “Weekend of local rock” before too long.

As is always the case, this is the potpourri of items I find interesting, but not worthy enough of a full-blown post. Today I may even simply link to the items without much further comment because I have quite a bit to get to.

For example, Baltimore County Republican Examiner Ann Miller recently penned a post with timeless advice on how conservatives should treat media encounters. While it’s sad that media sometimes seems more interested in presenting a politically correct agenda than getting the truth, these are the rules we’re saddled with for now. It’s worth reading.

Another item worth reading that’s too long for me to excerpt is “A Day in the Life of O’Malley’s Maryland,” written by Senator J.B. Jennings. We can always talk about what tax and fee (but I repeat myself, for “a fee is a tax” according to MOM) increases do in the abstract, but the Jennings piece looks at how all these add up over the course of an average day.

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