Legislation to Improve Voter Access Nears Final Agreement

Although security issues remain a concern for some, legislation introduced by the Administration to expand the number of early voting locations in some jurisdictions, provide for voter registration during early voting, and improve access to absentee ballots is nearing final agreement in the General Assembly. As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available):

Although it has been warmly received by much of the General Assembly, the legislation has been caught up, in part, over efforts to fix a provision that would allow absentee voters to receive ballots over the Internet instead of by mail.

Advocates for people with disabilities have lobbied heavily for the measure, saying it would allow those who need a lot of time to vote or who cannot vote without the help of others to do so more conveniently from home. But a group of election technology experts warned last month that the online system could be exploited on a mass scale, potentially jeopardizing election results.

The Maryland House and Senate have passed similar proposals to tighten security, and key lawmakers on Thursday predicted that a final compromise could be reached this week. But a grass-roots voting group said the proposed changes would still leave the online-ballot-delivery system vulnerable.

Other changes in the bill would expand the number of early voting centers, mostly based on population, but give some counties the option of establishing an additional site over the number specified in the bill.  The bill also requires the State Board of Elections to study how to reduced the average voter time to no more than 30 minutes.

Prior coverage of this legislation can be found on Conduit Street.