Vote yes to both ballot questions
In addition to all of the state and county races in play for the general election, Charles County voters, along with the rest of the state, will have two constitutional questions to consider. One has to do with nailing down a money source for public schools, while the other deals with adding even more convenience to voter registration.
We suggest you vote yes to both ballot issues.
Sometimes these questions are mere formalities, or have more to do with other areas of the state. But sometimes, they can represent fundamental changes in the way things in government get done.
As for the two questions on the ballot this year, let’s examine them one at a time. Question 1 would more firmly dedicate casino tax revenue to supplement public education. That’s a good idea, and is an appropriate way for the state’s six casinos (the closest to us is MGM National Harbor) to give back to the community. According to the Maryland Lottery, 49 percent of that money is already supposed by be earmarked for education (33 percent of the take goes back to the casino owners, and the rest is spread to supplement horse racing and other endeavors, with 1.5 percent going to Maryland small businesses). What this so-called “Fix the Fund” initiative would do is create a “lockbox” for that school funding. Maryland governors have been known to do some creative (and completely legal) shuffling of gambling funds into other pots. This amendment would stop that money movement and direct it to schools.
Maryland has had a lottery since 1973 (after voters invited it in 1972), then added keno games 20 years later. In 2008, a state referendum allowed casino gambling, and the first such establishment opened two years later. In this space, we won’t get into a long argument about how these means for gambling (mostly the lottery itself) amount to a tax on the poor, drawing money from those who can often least afford to lose it. Regarding this question, we’ll just say if folks are going to gamble anyway, it makes sense for our schools to benefit as always promised.
Question 2 would allow people to register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day, as is already the case in 16 other states. That convenience is already in place here in Maryland during early voting, and should be permitted on Election Day as well. If accepted, it would kick in as soon as 2020.
If adopted, the law would use the same procedures now in place for early voting, such as asking for potential voters to show a driver’s license or other state-issued identification. This should calm those fearing voter fraud.
And while there certainly is enough time and ways for people to register as usual — such as at the Motor Vehicle Administration, the local board of elections and online — giving people another option can’t be a bad thing. What’s wrong with making the election process in Maryland as inclusive as possible?
So when you see the two ballot questions this fall, vote yes to both.