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Thursday, October 30, 2014

4 ways for Maryland to increase voting options


   Yesterday I took advantage of our early voting option for the first time.  I have never found voting on election day to be one of long waits as I usually voted mid afternoon.  I decided to see how the early voting process worked.  I had no wait to vote and was in and out in 10 minutes.

    We are fortunately living in a state that hasn't tried to make voting more difficult like some other states recently.  Restricting the voting process seems to me to be a sign of a desperate political party in decline.
    Even with our state's accessible voting system we are still behind other states in providing convenient voting options.  Here are just some examples of what other states provide.

1) Vote by mail- In Oregon every registered voter is sent a ballot that can be returned by mail.  This system was set up by a state initiative approved in 1998.  In presidential elections around 80% of registered voters returned their ballots which is the highest percentage of registered voters voting of any state.  The mailing costs of this system are outweighed by the costs of setting up voting sites.

2) High school and college voter registration- The most underrepresented group of potential voters are young persons who can vote for the first time.  I have to admit that I was 26 the first time I voted.  Making the voter registration process convenient  to where young people are would at least encourage them to register to vote.

3) Same day registration- This might be seen as the option that procrastinators or "lazy" voters may use but this convenience is used for many other systems we interact with every day.  The same day registrants must show proof of residency to register this way.  Some state allow a provisional ballot for those who don't have the proof on the voting day but can show the proof before the time of counting the absentee votes are counted.

4) Voting online-  Do you know that some voters are allowed to vote online?  Military voters stationed out of state or overseas have this option in some states.  It may be only a matter of time until this system is developed for a general non-military population.  There are a number of issues that would have to be worked out for an online voting system but many of the daily tasks we perform (i.e. banking and shopping) have developed the secure systems to move much of their business online.


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