Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Election Fiasco Weeks in Making

Bloggers and politicians around the state have spent the day deploring the primary as a disaster. The Baltimore Sun chronicled "long waits, locked doors and absentee workers at locations from Highlandtown to Mount Washington" in Baltimore City while the Maryland Politics Watch blog reported problems across Montgomery County's 238 precincts.

The troubles that have popped up today are serious enough to warrant the statewide extension of voting hours. A judge ordered polling places to remain open until 9pm in Montgomery County, a solution that should be implemented across the state.

But problems with this election surfaced weeks before these last-minute complications. The most serious was the distribution to all Baltimore City voters cards alerting them they could take advantage of early voting. The many city residents who work long hours or have responsibilities that prevent them from getting to the polls on Sept. 12, the card assured, could vote nearly a week in advance. The problem: there is no early voting in Maryland.

The city mailed out the cards despite a pending judicial decision on the constitutionality of early voting. By the time the state's highest court struck down the law, Baltimoreans had already received the notification. The result is the potential disenfranchisement of some of the hardest working citizens in our city. There is no telling how many people arranged their schedules under the assumption that they could vote the week before Election Day. By the time they went to the polls only to find they could only vote Sept. 12, it was too late.

In addition to the mass-mailing of misinformation to hundreds of thousands of Baltimore voters, other problems surfaced in the weeks before the primary, including the inclusion on the Attorney General ballot of a man whose candidacy was ruled ineligible and the misprinting of a Republican US Senate candidate's name. To top it off, voters are now confronted with a host of problems on Election Day itself.

Fiasco.
Disaster.
Blunder.
Big Ole Fuck Up.
All accurate characterizations of Maryland's Primary 2006.

from The League: Reassembled

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