Saturday, August 26, 2006

MD High Court: Early Voting Unconstitutional

In a per curiam order ("per curiam" means unsigned, belonging to the court as a whole) to be followed at some point by an opinion, the Maryland Court of Appeals (our highest court) struck down the Democratic-sponsored early voting law which Governor Ehrlich unsuccessfully vetoed and which a prior Circuit Court judge had overturned. The Court of Appeals decision effectively upheld the lower court decision, but without expressing its reasoning or identifying any possible dissenting or concurring voice on the Court, for now at least.

The provision would have made it easier for people with difficult schedules, long commutes or complex child care situations - voters less likely to turn out in a low-turnout election, and possibly more likely to vote Democratic in many cases - to vote early at a few selected polling stations in each Maryland jurisdiction. Maryland's absentee ballot provisions are very liberal but this law would have allowed voting even earlier and at a live polling station. Governor Ehrlich got from the Court of Appeals what his veto pen could not achieve.


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