Accusations of partisan politics kill plans for a new early voting center in Montgomery Co.

Several Maryland State Board of Elections members are blasting Montgomery County leaders over plans for an early voting center.

Montgomery County Councilman Tom Hucker and others asked the Montgomery County Board of Elections to consider adding another early voting center in the White Oak area.

Hucker said the area is underserved, and a new center would help seniors, African-American and immigrant voters and low-income voters get to the polls.

But the board rejected the idea.

The rejection prompted the State Board to order the Montgomery County Board of Elections to suggest a new location. But when the local board came back with two recommendations — one in White Oak and another in Potomac, chosen along political lines — State Board of Election Chairman Michael Cogan was not happy.

“You have come to us to solve a political issue … Even though we are at the center of the political process, we are not, ourselves, political,” Cogan said angrily, tapping his finger loudly on the table as he spoke during a 3 1/2 hour hearing in Annapolis Thursday.

State Board Member William G. Voelp, added, “That’s insulting, I would rather you all just fought it out in Montgomery County and gave us one [early voting center] and let us just make a decision on the one.”

Without mandating the county do so, Cogan suggested the local election board might need to scrap its 11 current early voting centers and suggest all new locations that would better meet voter needs.

“You have to make a decision, and you passed the buck,” said State Board of Elections Member Malcolm L. Funn, chastising Montgomery County.

The five-member board then voted 3-2 to not require Montgomery County to add another early voting center.

Unless the Montgomery County Board of Elections changes its original decision, the county will function with its current 11 early voting centers.

The state board is unlikely to intervene in the issue again.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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