Saturday, April 01, 2006

Is Voting Just Harder for Democrats?

The Washington Post reports on Maryland Senate Republicans walking out of the chamber in protest. The story had this interesting fact:
Just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, Democrats passed the last in a series of controversial measures, which included ... a bill to ... alter election laws to put early voting stations in urban -- and largely Democratic -- precincts.
So Maryland needs early voting, but only for Democrats. What exactly are they admitting to here? Here's a longer account:

None of the measures passed smoothly. There was a failed filibuster on the schools bill, a bitter parliamentary challenge of the House speaker on the measure to reconstitute the state's Public Service Commission and a seemingly endless succession of procedural contortions over the others. But it was the highly partisan election measure that prompted the walkout by the dispirited GOP caucus, which holds just 14 seats in the 47-member chamber.

"We know we're outnumbered, votewise. We know we have no control. Now they won't even let us participate," Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford) said after leaving the chamber. "I'm ready to go home."

Democrats paused briefly after the walkout. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) had an aide ring bells in the cavernous State House foyer to alert them that voting would continue. Then the Democrats passed the election bill on a vote of 29 to 3 as a cluster of the chamber's red leather high-back chairs sat empty.

If Maryland election law is going to change, it should change to benefit all citizens, including independents and Republicans. Of course after we saw who couldn't figure out a simple ballot in 2000, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise.

And no, this isn't an April Fools joke.

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