Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tougher Voting Laws Needed in Maryland

Recently, two Maryland women were indicted on charges of vote fraud in the 2012 election causing Maryland Republicans as well as many others to suggest that tougher voting laws are needed in the state. 

Linda Wells was indicted in July for impersonating a voter to register in the name of the voter, attempting to vote under a false name and impersonating another person in an attempt to vote.  Ms. Wells called the county Board of Elections impersonating her dead mother and reactivated her mother’s registration the day before the election and then voted provisionally as her mother on election day.  In this case, luckily, the provisional ballot was not counted according to the statement announcing the indictment. 

Vote fraud in Maryland is not an uncommon thing as it was discovered that Wendy Rosen, a former congressional candidate who tried to unseat Andy Harris, was caught voting in both Maryland and Florida.  Rosen dropped out of the race when her double voting was discovered.  she was later fined a minimal amount ($5000) and given 1,000 hours of community service-a mere slap on the wrist for knowingly breaking the law. 

Maryland Delegate Kathy Szeliga (District 7):

“To have a candidate arrogant enough to run for Congress and having committed voter fraud proves there’s voter fraud,” 

She along with other state delegates have tried to repeatedly to bring the issue to the foresight of the Maryland state legislature, especially with its recent voter overhauls. 

“Every illegal vote takes away from a legitimate vote,” said Del. Kathy Afzali (Dist. 4A)…Requiring voters to have ID and purging the voter rolls would help, she said. “We have a lot of dead people ... or people who have moved or left the state [who are] still on the rolls.”

Afzali and other Republicans have tried repeatedly to make fraudulent voting a felony in Maryland, punishable with a fine of up to $10,000.

“Keep in mind, if it’s a felony, the person who commits the crime is prohibited from voting in future,” she said. “And to me, that person should lose the right to vote.”
Many believe that cleaning up the voter rolls would also help to curb potential fraud. Election Integrity Maryland, a citizen watchdog group, says it has found numerous inaccuracies with the Maryland voter rolls and that it is not complying with the National Voter Registration Act. The group scanned 39,000 names and found 1,100 problems. If there are that many problems with 1% of the voter rolls what is the true potential for fraud? While the State Board of Elections denies the accusations, the fact remains that fraud like that perpetuated by Ms. Wells above would not have happened had the Board of Elections properly did their job and checked before reactivating the mother’s registration. 

Election Integrity Maryland is one of the many groups who believe that a voter ID bill in Maryland would be a great start to curbing the potential for fraud and any inaccuracies on the voter rolls.  However with the Democrat controlled Maryland General Assembly it is bills like this, bills that would only help to safeguard one of our most important and special rights that we as American’s have, that are killed because some democratic opponents believe that it could potentially prevent a person who is unable to get an ID from exercising their right to vote even though examples cannot be found in other states who have ID laws.  

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