Friday, August 11, 2006

Maryland Early Voting Struck Down

The AP and WaPo are reporting that Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth has struck down Maryland's landmark early voting laws as unconstitutional. According to the Post, Silkworth's 18-page ruling cites two primary reasons for invalidating the laws: "because they expand the constitutional definition of Election Day, and because they allow voters to cast ballots outside their precinct."

Governor Robert Ehrlich, when told of the ruling this afternoon, reportedly responded "Wow! Wow!"

Yes, the GOP is dancing in the streets knowing that many Marylanders will be disenfranchised by the court's action (assuming it isn't overturned on appeal). It was widely accepted that early voting would benefit Democratic candidates over Republicans (since Dems outnumber GOP voters 2-1 in the state), so anything that suppresses turnout would help even those odds.

I am not a lawyer, but I wonder how early voting can be struck down, but the old system of absentee balloting was acceptable? Weren't those people casting ballots prior to Election Day?

Alright, I know there's a bunch of would-be Maryland constitutional scholars out there in the blogosphere. What's your take on the early voting decision?

UPDATE: A quick roundup of reaction -

Terry Lierman responds to ruling that "thwarts will of people, limits voting rights."

Outside the Beltway opines that "challenging policies that encourage voter participation should be seen as akin to voter suppression."

Crossposted on Political Yak.
Tags: early voting; Maryland politics

2 Comments:

Blogger Bruce Godfrey said...

My law school colleague and published Maryland constitutional expert Dan Friedman had comments to the Washington Post and to me in a private email, the substance of which can be read here for those who are interested.

8/13/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sara da Muse said...

Well, we better focus a bit on O'Malley and the Dem nominee for Senate after September 12. No more years!

8/16/2006 10:22:00 AM  

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