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County Leaders To Host Cardin, Gray, Van Hollen To Talk Voting Rights

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 9/20/2013, 3:05pm  ET

Voters wait to vote at Bethesda Library (file photo)Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro will host Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and a number of other officials on Monday to discuss a Council resolution on voting rights and increasing the number of voters.

The resolution, which will be approved on Tuesday, calls for federal enforcement of election law after recent examples of states implementing stricter voter identification laws for the 2014 midterm election.

“While Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly have taken important steps to expand voting opportunities, several other states and the Supreme Court have made devastating decisions to move in the opposite direction,” Navarro said. “At the county level, we have limited authority in making election law. While Montgomery County funds the local Board of Elections, election rules are ultimately determined at the state level. However, County Government can be a catalyst for offering innovative proposals our state and federal officials can adopt.”

The resolution also calls for Congress to give D.C. full representation and voting rights, arguing that D.C.’s lack of representation hurts Montgomery County and other surrounding jurisdictions on regional transportation issues.

The resolution asks the Montgomery County Board of Elections to select new early voting sites in 2014 that are easily accessible by public transportation. It would also create a task force to review and make recommendations to improve the county’s election process.

Two-thirds of registered voters in Montgomery County voted in the 2012 presidential election and 51% of registered county voters voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

“We need to make sure that all eligible voters, regardless of income or access to a vehicle, have an opportunity to cast a ballot,” Navarro said.

The county got the go-ahead from this year’s Maryland General Assembly to expand its early voting program from five locations to eight and it will seek the option for a ninth. The expansion is due in large part to the success of early voting before the 2012 election.

The Board of Elections presented a list of 17 potential early voting sites for voting from June 14 to June 19, 2014. The election is June 24, 2014.