Scalpel, not hatchet fixes voter rolls

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

In a re­cent editorial, The Washington Times urges the League of Women Vot­ers and Com­mon Cause to join an ef­fort by Ju­di­cial Watch to re­move vot­ers from the reg­is­tra­tion rolls in Mont­gomery County, Mary­land (“Pre­serv­ing vot­ing rights in Mary­land,” April 23). Based on our knowl­edge of Mary­land’s voter-reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem, we can­not sup­port this mis­guided ef­fort.

Ju­di­cial Watch’s expressions of alarm about the num­ber of people on the voter rolls in Mont­gomery County re­flects their lack of knowl­edge about the reg­is­tra­tion process, not any mal­func­tion of the sys­tem. Their let­ter to the state board of elec­tions art­fully refers to the to­tal num­ber of vot­ers records, though they are aware that a large num­ber of those are in­ac­tive vot­ers in the process of be­ing re­moved. Many people move from one lo­ca­tion to an­other with­out no­ti­fy­ing the board. When a piece of mail sent by the board is re­turned by the postal ser­vice, that voter is placed in in­ac­tive sta­tus. Af­ter miss­ing two elec­tion cy­cles, the voter is re­moved from the rolls, but as Ju­di­cial Watch well knows, they can­not be re­moved be­fore that time un­less they con­firm their move.

Ju­di­cial Watch also neglects to note that the cen­sus bureau estimate on which they rely counts only those cit­i­zens over the age of 18. In Mary­land, a ci­ti­zen can reg­is­ter to vote at age 16 but their reg­is­tra­tion is held in in­ac­tive sta­tus un­til they turn 18. Also, a voter can vote in a pri­mary if they will turn 18 be­fore the gen­eral elec­tion. There are thou­sands of such vot­ers in Mont­gomery County alone. Sim­i­larly, the cen­sus es­ti­mates do not in­clude cit­i­zens sta­tioned over­seas in the mil­i­tary, the diplo­matic corps or in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, though those cit­i­zens con­tinue to have the right to vote.

Fur­ther­more, the Mary­land State Board of Elec­tions al­ready par­tic­i­pates in a con­sor­tium of states that ex­change voter reg­is­tra­tion and other govern­ment data to iden­tify people who have moved or died, lead­ing to thou­sands of cor­rec­tions to voter reg­is­tra­tion rolls ev­ery month. Un­like the blan­ket re­movals from the rolls that Ju­di­cial Watch sup­ports, Mary­land’s pro­ce­dures take care to avoid er­rors due to mis­taken iden­ti­ties, giv­ing vot­ers no­tice and the op­por­tu­nity to cor­rect mis­takes.

Both of our or­ga­ni­za­tions want ev­ery ci­ti­zen to be able to vote and we will con­tinue to work with boards of elec­tions to main­tain the in­tegrity of the elec­tion process. We will not be join­ing any ef­fort that is as care­less about vot­ers’ rights as the lat­est Ju­di­cial Watch pub­lic­ity stunt.

RALPH WATKINS

Vice pres­i­dent, di­rec­tor of vot­ers’ ser­vice League of Women Vot­ers of Mary­land Annapolis JEN­NIFER BE­VAN-DANGEL Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor

Com­mon Cause Mary­land Annapolis

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