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June 21, 2010

Early voting: Which side benefits?

Two years after Marylanders approved early voting, voters this fall may cast ballots at any time during the week leading up to Election Day.

As Baltimore Sun colleague Annie Linskey writes, the state's major parties are divided over which side stands to gain from the change.

Democrats, who enjoy a 2-1 edge over Republicans in voter registration in Maryland, see the expanded window giving them more opportunity to get the party faithful to the polls.

But Republicans say relying on registration will backfire this year. They say the rules will make it easier for angry Marylanders to cast their votes to send the majority party packing.

One thing, Linskey writes, seems certain: The campaigns will have far more information about who has been to their polling place and who has not during the course of the voting period, opening the door to a prolonged and closely targeted get-out-the-vote effort that could mean days of phone calls to Maryland households.

Read the rest of the story at

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 12:12 PM | | Comments (1)


Nobody wins.

Democrats in the legislature didn't vote up or down on this bad idea, but moved it to a referendum and worked to convince voters it was a no-cost convenience for them that would increase turnout and make democracy better.

Uninformed voters went to the polls and voted favorably. After all, their legislators wouldn't have put it on the ballot if it was a bad idea, would they?

Uninformed legislators then went to work on the implementing legislation. They sat there and didn't flinch at the statement that the costs of implementing this would be minimal.

In Baltimore City and Baltimore County there will be five early voting centers each. Each center will be open for twelve days, six before the Primary and six before the General.

For each of those 12 days, each voting center will be staffed by seventeen judges, each making about $250.00 per day for $4250 per day, $51,000 per center, and $255,000 per jurisdiction.

Maybe in Annapolis $255,000 is minimal cost, but in Baltimore County it is real money, as it is in Baltimore City, Prince Georges County, Montgomery County, all of the counties that only have three voting centers and those that have one, where the smaller numbers have smaller expenses.

Research has shown that early voting doesn't impact voter turnout, competitive races gets people to the polls.

Still, the politicians who wanted this will tell their constituents that THEY made convenient voting happen. There will be no mention of the extreme costs that return noting on the investment.

The taxpayers are the losers, having received what they asked for.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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