Tuesday, March 03, 2009

MoCo Board of Elections Opposes Early Voting in District 4

Following is a memo from the Deputy Election Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections to Senator Roy Dyson (D-29) opposing Senator Madaleno's early voting bill for District 4. BOE has written Senator Dyson because he is the lead sponsor of the statewide early voting bill pending in the Senate. While the BOE memo says that County Executive Ike Leggett opposes Madaleno's early voting bill, we should stress that we have not heard that directly from the County Executive's office. Perhaps his representatives (who have commented here before) would like to elaborate on the County Executive's position?

TO: Senator Roy Dyson

FROM: Sara Harris, Deputy Election Director, Montgomery County Board of Elections

DATE: February 27, 2009

RE: Early Voting

It has come to my attention that Sen. Madaleno, Sen. Raskin are preparing emergency legislation to permit early voting prior to the Special Council District 4 Primary and General Elections in Montgomery County, officially scheduled by the Montgomery County Council for April 21 and May 19, 2009.

County Executive Isiah Leggett has indicated his opposition to this legislation.

The Montgomery County Board President, Jerrold Garson and I were in Annapolis yesterday providing Sen. Madaleno, Sen. Raskin and their staff with details of why this emergency legislation is imprudent, unwise, hasty, adjectives not associated with well-implemented, successfully conducted elections.

While we and our Boards of Elections’ colleagues across the state are preparing for early voting procedures for the 2010 Gubernatorial Elections, no regulation, procedure or policy has been adopted at this time. It is highly unwise and impractical to prepare for and expect successfully implemented early voting in such a short time. To be required to initiate, prepare and proceed to launch early voting within weeks when, for example, obtaining a facility, personnel, electronic poll books (testing, preparation and delivery), for the 46 precincts of the District presents a set of variables for not only embarrassment for all involved, but, also, adds a potential loss to voter confidence.

We are prepared to provide registered voters in Council District 4 with the following information regarding hours of voting. In addition to the mailed sample ballot to each registered voter, the Montgomery County Board of Elections expects to mail absentee voting information to each voter, including web site download of an absentee application form and the option to vote absentee at the Board of Elections’ office with additional in-office voting hours available on the Saturday immediately before both the primary and the general elections.

Please do not permit proceeding with a service for which there is no regulation, no procedure, no tested software/electronic poll book preparation concluded, no personnel recruited and trained, and no secure, appropriate facility agreement in place. Please, instead, give careful consideration for time and expert resources to develop and implement proper procedures for 2010 early voting, permitting time for voters to be informed, personnel to be recruited and trained, equipment to be tested and prepared subject to a new preparation and delivery schedule and election officials to carry out the necessary, multiple preparations. Proceeding hastily into unknown territory is an unnecessary, unwise risk; what is necessary, is a well-prepared for, successfully launched early voting in 2010 complementing the success and voter confidence evident to many throughout the successful conduct of the 2008 presidential elections in Maryland.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sara Harris
Deputy Election Director

Note: The bold emphasis above appeared in the original memo.