Below is the testimony from Lewis Porter at the Maryland State Board of Elections meeting on December 11th. Porter is Maryland Voter Alliance’s MVP of the Week!
Poll Watcher Rights
My name is Lewis Porter, founder of Maryland 20-20 Watch and lifelong citizen of Montgomery County. I have come here over concerns as to what is happening in some polls on Election Day.
I knew from past experiences that Baltimore City had questionable voting practices. So my group and I went into the city on Election Day at the behest of the Larry Hogan campaign. We were directed to one specific poll. Three of us were there for the entire day. When we introduced ourselves to the Poll Judge, she told us that we could not sit in the main room, so we went into the hall and tried to do our job from there. She was not welcoming to say the least, so we had trouble trying to do our job according to how it is spelled out in the Poll Watchers Guide.
Now, if I had witnessed a robbery in a store and reported it to the Police, someone could go to jail based on it. So why is it that a Poll Watcher can’t report a questionable issue to someone in authority in real time?
I’m here asking that a Poll Watcher have more power in this process and a way to report a legitimate and fraudulent concern other than by calling the candidate’s campaign headquarters.
Our great country was founded on “We the People” and a citizen in a polling place doing their duty is needed, should be honored, and we need more of them in the election process! My 20-20 group and I aim to make that happen. For the citizen volunteer that does come out to help at a poll on Election Day, they should be given the highest respect and a proper way to take issue with an Election Judge when they see a real problem and on equal grounds.
As the board continues to remove from the voting process a real paper trail cast by a single person in a limited time at a single site, you have only increased the need for a “Citizen’s Watch”, not lessened it! Please take another look at your “Mission and Vision” statement which I have provided on the back of this page and see if you can put a little more trust back into the process. Thank you.
Lewis T. Porter
J. Alexandra Tuttle
Below is the testimony from J. Alexandra Tuttle at the Maryland State Board of Elections meeting on December 11th. Tuttle is Maryland Voter Alliance’s MVP of the Week!
Good afternoon. I understand this is an opportunity to speak to the State Board of Elections (SOB) regarding a variety of issues related to voting in the state of Maryland.
As a Precinct Co-Chair in my legislative district, you might imagine my surprise when I looked at “ ‘the latest voter rolls,” this spring, only to find several people who were known to be deceased or having moved away, were still on the voter rolls. Section 8 of The National Voter Registration passed years ago, mandates states clean up their voter rolls and records within several election cycles. We spent countless hours going through the voter rolls “with a fine tooth comb” and cross checking information with our up to date phone directory. Quite frankly, I thought I had already paid for updated voter rolls from the state/county board of elections through my tax dollars!
However, some good news ! Now Marylanders can get dead voters off the rolls, thanks Senator Nancy Jacobs and to Governor O’Malley signing into law this common sense measure this past legislative session. Given that dead voters on the rolls has been a known problem and ongoing issue for the SOB, then my question to you is why did it take so long to remedy this problem?
Moreover, Maryland is now one of at least 11 states participating in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), where information pertaining to voters can be exchanged since early 2012. States receive reports from ERIC that identify voters whose records may not longer be current, because they have changed their names or moved or died.
In 2014, the Virginia Voters’ Alliance announced that as many as 44,000 voters were registered in both Maryland and in Virginia, both of whom are supposed to be a part of the ERIC system. What happened and why was this not caught? This is and should be a concern to all especially our elected officials who want to ensure the integrity of the election process.
In the state’s zeal to make it easy and convenient for voting, the issue of same day Voter Registration, without voter identification” has been considered –I am very concerned that having individuals registering on an election day, with no opportunity to verify the identity and personal information of each voter which could lead to voter fraud. To quote Justice John Paul Stevens: “the United States has a long history of voter fraud, that has been documented by historians and journalists.”
Improving voter registration, ballot access and voting for US Military and overseas citizens is important. Certainly, those serving in our armed forces “in the line of duty, have “skin in the game,” one might venture that perhaps non citizens do not. I would also point out that the Maryland State Board Elections website notes for Military Voters to get a ballot, one must have some form of identification. I fully support these type of voter prerequisites FOR ALL (not just the military), since they help to ensure voter integrity and diminish the chances of fraud.
While requiring photo identification of some sort is not a panacea, but should be something the state Board of Elections would argue for when working with the state legislature and while “cleaning up the voter rolls.” Where is proof of citizenship provided when requesting to register to vote? Currently, all that is required is that a person “mark” the box that declares, under penalty of perjury that they are indeed a citizen of this country.
Section 1.7 of the Maryland State Constitution requires that the: “ (t)he General Assembly shall pass laws necessary for the preservation of the purity of elections. “ By extension, the State Board of Elections is obviously fundamental to this process – where there may be shortcomings in existing law and regulations, it is incumbent upon the state board to notify the state legislature, so that “adjustments” can be made.
In sum, my expectation is that those serving on the Board of Elections are charged with ensuring the integrity of the election process, do so with the utmost regard for those who have the legal right to vote, and that the policies implemented ensure that “equal protection,” under the law is enshrined and honored in the voting process.
J. Alexandra Tuttle
The Maryland Voter Alliance’s MVP of the week focuses on a community member who is doing good in the fight to ensure fraud-free elections for all Americans. I am proud to announce our MVP of the week, Lynda Del Castillo who presented at the last Maryland Board of Elections meeting!
Congratulations Lynda and see her testimony from the December 11th meeting below:
Good Afternoon, Members of the Board of Election..
Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
My name is Lynda del Castillo and I have lived in Bethesda for more than 30 years. This is my second time to publicly offer my opinion before a board setting like this in the three decades I have lived here in Bethesda.
My topic is the same, however.
In July of this year, I became aware, through a chance email I received, that the County Council was reviewing suggestions made by its Fair Vote Task Force. One of the Task Force recommendations was to allow non U.S. citizens to vote in county elections. I spoke then that I disagreed and argued that it violated Maryland state law.
Just before the recent November election, I read about a lawsuit filed in Frederick County, Maryland alleging that massive and fraudulent voting by non U.S. citizens was occurring in the county. The group contends that such illegal voting has been going on for years because jury duty and voter registrations did not match for many people.
I consider this a serious problem and upon some independent research of my own, have become very disturbed to learn that due to the Motor Voter laws, it seems very easy to register to vote without the need to prove one’s U.S. citizenship.
I found a quote attributed to Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator, Linda H. Lamone, stating the following on the subject of verifying required U.S. citizenship:
“There is no way of checking. We have no way of doing that. We have no access to any information about who is in the United States legally or otherwise.”
So it seems this situation has been going on for some time now.
The issue here is whether or not an applicant is here legally or not. The issue is whether the applicant is a U.S. citizen.
There are many applicants for Maryland drivers licenses who might be here legally but are not U.S. citizens, and therefore, not eligible to register to vote. Legal residency is not enough; one must be a U.S. citizen in order to vote.
My reading has also revealed another disturbing fact.
Federal agencies don’t always assist in clearing up records and confirming the citizenship of applicants, resulting in state election officials relying almost entirely on the “honor system” to keep non-citizens from the polls.
For some non citizens, getting a voter registration card, easily obtained by just checking a box at the MVA office, opens the door to getting many federal government benefits which should only be received by U.S. citizens. The voter registration ID can be a critical pathway to identifying as a US citizen.
The accuracy and integrity of voter registrations is critically important to honest and fair voting, ensuring we have a system people believe in.
I would like to hear from the Board of Elections to learn of how the State of Maryland can devise a way to ensure that voter registration applicants at the MVA are in fact, U.S. citizens.
Thank you very much
Lynda del Castillo
Resident, Bethesda MD