Friday, August 11, 2006

Maryland Early Voting Struck Down

The AP and WaPo are reporting that Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth has struck down Maryland's landmark early voting laws as unconstitutional. According to the Post, Silkworth's 18-page ruling cites two primary reasons for invalidating the laws: "because they expand the constitutional definition of Election Day, and because they allow voters to cast ballots outside their precinct."

Governor Robert Ehrlich, when told of the ruling this afternoon, reportedly responded "Wow! Wow!"

Yes, the GOP is dancing in the streets knowing that many Marylanders will be disenfranchised by the court's action (assuming it isn't overturned on appeal). It was widely accepted that early voting would benefit Democratic candidates over Republicans (since Dems outnumber GOP voters 2-1 in the state), so anything that suppresses turnout would help even those odds.

I am not a lawyer, but I wonder how early voting can be struck down, but the old system of absentee balloting was acceptable? Weren't those people casting ballots prior to Election Day?

Alright, I know there's a bunch of would-be Maryland constitutional scholars out there in the blogosphere. What's your take on the early voting decision?

UPDATE: A quick roundup of reaction -

Terry Lierman responds to ruling that "thwarts will of people, limits voting rights."

Outside the Beltway opines that "challenging policies that encourage voter participation should be seen as akin to voter suppression."

Crossposted on Free State Politics.
Tags: early voting; Maryland politics

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