Vote yes to both bal­lot ques­tions

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum -

In ad­di­tion to all of the state and county races in play for the gen­eral elec­tion, Calvert 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.

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 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 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 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 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 amount to a tax on the poor, draw­ing money from those who can of­ten least af­ford to lose it. We’ll just say if folks are go­ing to gam­ble, it makes sense for our schools to ben­e­fit.

Ques­tion 2 would open the door for al­low­ing 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 in place here in Mary­land dur­ing early vot­ing and, we be­lieve, should be per­mit­ted on Elec­tion Day as well. If ac­cepted, it could kick in as soon as 2020. We un­der­stand the con­cerns ex­pressed by the Calvert County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee that this could make voter regis­tra­tion pol­icy even more lax in the state. But if adopted, the law would still use the same gen­eral pro­ce­dures now in place for early vot­ing, such as ask­ing for po­ten­tial vot­ers to show a driver’s li­cense or state-is­sued iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. This eases our fears re­gard­ing any po­ten­tial for voter fraud.

And while there cer­tainly is enough time and ways for peo­ple to reg­is­ter as usual — such as at the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion, at the lo­cal board of elec­tions and on­line — giv­ing them an­other op­tion can’t be a bad thing. What’s wrong with mak­ing the elec­tion process as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble?

So when you see the two bal­lot ques­tions this fall, we say vote yes to both.

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