More Voters on the Rolls, than Citizens Over 18 in MoCo
By Sharon L. Cohen
Surprise, surprise, Montgomery County Maryland (MoCo) has more people on the voter rolls than there are citizens over 18 in the county who are eligible to vote. Huh? Go figure that math problem out.
According to Judicial Watch – the conservative, non-partisan foundation aimed at promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in government –roughly 90 counties in 11 different states have issues with their voter rolls. MoCo has the dubious honor of being the ONLYcounty in Maryland identified by Judicial Watch as having inaccurate voter records. In fact, they discovered that there are more than 24,000 registered voters in MoCo than there are citizens over 18 in the county.
It turns out that the county uses a very lengthy as well as complex process to clean the voter rolls in order to weed out registered voters who have moved away and who are, therefore, no longer eligible to vote in MoCo. Moreover, there appears to be no quick or easy process to remove registered voters from the rolls after they have passed away.
And that’s just the beginning.
The MoCo Board of Elections staff testified at the Friday, April 21st hearing of the MoCo County Council’s Government Operations (GO) Committee, that there are currently “something like 22 different versions” of instructions on how to process address changes. Furthermore, the Election Board staff informed the GO Committee Council Members that “there is no simple, neat answer.” The staff noted they follow all the rules and regulations for voter list maintenance, but they “also don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s right to vote.” County Council Member Hans Riemer expressed the same sentiment at the Friday GO Committee hearing, cautioning the Board of Elections to “not overreact” to the Judicial Watch demand letter and to “not disenfranchise voters.”
Really? Making sure the voter rolls are accurate somehow translates into taking voters’ right away? Hmmm, anyone ever hear of a “provisional ballot?” [NOTE: see Maryland Election Law, Title 9, Subtitle 4 which states that an individual whose name does “not appear on the election register“ “shall be issued and may cast a provisional ballot” “on election day,” “at an early voting center during early voting,” or “at the local board office in the county where the individual resides.” The MD BOE also provides an on-line search engine for any individual to check, change their voter registration AND to confirm if their provisional ballot was counted, and why or why not: https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/votersearch.]
The Judicial Watch letter dated April 11th and sent to the Maryland Board of Elections pointed out their concerns about MoCo’s outdated voter rolls and the need for immediate action by the State to take corrective action. The letter, http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/NVRA-Violation-letter-MD-2017.pdf , includes a number of document demands and outlines potential legal actions that Judicial Watch may take.
MoCo Elections Board Chairman James Shalleck had it right. He told the County Council GO Committee at the April 21st hearing that “Voter Fraud is totally unacceptable, and there is zero tolerance on this.” If following all the rules and regulations now in place results in 24,000 more registered voters on the voter rolls than there are citizens 18 and older in the county, it may not be voter fraud per se, BUT then WE NEED NEW RULES AND REGULATIONS to assure that the potential for fraud does not exist!
It appears that this may be a State Law issue, and the Maryland General Assembly is now out of session. Chairman Shalleck please tell us what needs to change from a statutory standpoint so we — the voting public — can get working to make sure those changes are adopted when the General Assembly returns in January of next year. Chairman Shalleck, also please tell us what new rules and/or regulations do you need to clean up the voter rolls and to prevent voter fraud that can be adopted now, before the General Assembly returns in 2018?
We retired the old voting machines years ago (see picture above). Now it is time to do the same with our outdated voter roll verification and maintenance procedures.