by Anna Killius, Contributor
So much can go wrong before a voter ever reaches the voting booth. Voters encounter registration requirements, polling place assignments and identification law confusion. On Election Day, long lines and chilly temperatures can test the fortitude of even the most dedicated citizens. But imagine waiting for hours and dutifully handing over your driver’s license and voter registration card, only to be told that you are missing from the poll books. According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, you no longer live at your address, and your precinct has been changed. This is precisely what Christopher Lochner faced when he arrived at the Hereford polling station on November 6th, and he may not have been alone. With Maryland’s centralized voter registration system, it is now easier for voters to inadvertently signal a change of address, potentially leaving displaced and disgruntled voters to cast provisional ballots.
Centralized, computerized systems are a relatively recent addition to the election process, but, for Maryland, the idea is nothing new. After the 1994 gubernatorial election was decided by less than 6,000 votes, Governor Glendening created a 13-member task force to investigate and suggest reforms for the Maryland election system. Among those suggestions was a centralized state registration roll to replace those individually maintained by the counties. Budget constraints prevented Maryland from acting on this ambitious plan until Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. Continue reading