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Maryland Election Law Revisions, Question 4 (2006)

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Declaration of RightsIIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXI-AXI-BXI-CXI-DXI-EXI-FXI-GXI-HXI-IXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIX

The Maryland Election Law Revisions Act, also known as Question 4, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Maryland as a veto referendum, where it was approved. The measure required power and duties assigned to the State Board of Elections to be exercised in accordance with an affirmative vote by a supermajority of the members of the State Board. The measure also required local boards of elections to establish new precincts, adopt regulations concerning voter registration and to allow public notice and comment concerning proposed changes in precinct boundaries and make public reports concerning deletion of individuals from the voter registry and concerning the number of voter registration applications received. In addition, the measure authorized the State Elections administrator to take specified actions to ensure compliance with State elections laws by local election boards and personnel.[1]

Election results

Maryland Question 4 (2006)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 1,000,325 70.52%
No418,20629.48%

Election results via: Maryland State Board of Elections

Text of measure

The text of the measure can be read here.

Summary

The Maryland Department of Legislative Services is required by Section 7-105 of the Election Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to provide voters with neutral summaries of ballot questions. For Question 4, that summary was:

Statutory Enactment Petitioned to Statewide Referendum -- Election Law Revisions

Amends various provisions of the Election Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland as follows:

Early Voting

Special Note: The early voting provisions in Chapter 61 of 2006 would have specified the hours and locations of early voting polling places that would have been established to allow voters to vote during a five day early voting period prior to the primary and general elections. Additionally, the State and local election boards would have been required to take steps to inform the public about early voting and early voting polling places.

On August 25, 2006, the Court of Appeals of Maryland held that the early voting process passed by the General Assembly was not authorized under the Maryland Constitution. Accordingly, those portions of this enactment which concern the early voting process may not be implemented unless they are subsequently reenacted by the General Assembly in a manner that is deemed constitutional. Other provisions of the enactment, summarized below, may be put into effect immediately if Question 4 is approved.

E-poll Books

Requires each polling place to be equipped with "e-poll books," computer devices that are used to check in voters at polling places in order to guard against multiple voting by the same voter. The e-poll books must contain a record of all registered voters in the county and be capable of being networked to computer devices at other polling places. Funding for the e-poll books must be included in the State budget each year.

Separate Precincts for Certain Higher Education Institutions

Requires separate precincts to be established on or near the campus of each public or private higher education institution that has at least 500 students, faculty, or staff of the institution who are registered voters in the precinct in which the institution is located and if a polling place is not already located within one-half mile of the institution's campus. Requires higher education institutions for which separate precincts are established and that receive State funds to provide a facility for use as a polling place, at no charge to the local election board, and to provide assistance to the local election board in recruiting election judges to staff the polling place.

State Board of Elections Decisions

Requires the powers and duties of the State Board of Elections to be exercised by a supermajority vote (i.e., an affirmative vote of four out of five members). Voter Registration/Absentee Voting Assistance at Nursing Homes/Assisted Living Facilities Requires each local election board to administer voter registration and absentee voting for nursing homes and assisted living facilities according to regulations and procedures established by the State Administrator and approved by the State Board of Elections.

Provisions of Limited Duration and Applicability

Sets out provisions, as follows, that will only be in effect through June 30, 2008 and only apply in jurisdictions in which, based on data from the 2000 Decennial Census, less than 60 of the population lives in owner-occupied dwellings and the median income is less than $40,000 per year (applicable to Baltimore City and Somerset County only).

Allows the State Administrator of Elections (and a registered voter or an applicant for voter registration after first requesting the Administrator to do so) to file a lawsuit to stop a local election board or election director from violating State election laws, regulations, guidelines, or procedures.

Requires the State Administrator of Elections to suspend election personnel who violate State laws prohibiting election personnel from: holding or being a candidate for any elective public office, political party office, or any other office created under the Maryland Constitution or State laws; using an individual's official authority for the purpose of influencing or affecting the results of an election; or generally taking any active part in political management or a political campaign (exceptions apply to election judges when not performing their duties). Authorizes the State Administrator of Elections to appoint a temporary replacement for suspended election personnel.

Requires certain actions to be taken and procedures to be followed by the local election directors and election boards in the applicable jurisdictions, including that:

  • Regulations be adopted by the local election board, generally relating to: the administration of voter registration, including procedures for determining whether an applicant is qualified to become a registered voter; obtaining, receiving, and processing voters' changes of address or changes in eligibility status; and removing voters from the voter registry;
  • The specified regulations be approved by the State Administrator of Elections before the local election board denies any application for registration or removes any voter from the voter registry;
  • A public notice and comment process be completed and approval of the State Administrator be obtained before alteration of precinct boundaries or polling place locations;
  • A list of any names proposed by the local election director to be removed from the voter registry be published on the Internet not later than 30 days before the close of voter registration prior to an election;
  • Names not be removed from the voter registry, other than those requested by voters themselves, during the period beginning 30 days before the close of voter registration and ending at the close of polls on election day;
  • Public reports be made on the number and type of voter registration applications received, those accepted and rejected, and the reasons for the rejected applications; and At least one working voting machine or device be provided at each polling place for every 200 registered voters.

Study of Election Day Voter Registration

Requires the State Administrator of Elections and the Office of the Attorney General to review the possibility of implementing Election Day voter registration that would allow eligible, unregistered voters to register and vote on election day, beginning with the 2008 primary election, and to report their findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before December 31, 2006. (Amending Election Law 2-102, 2-103, 2-202, 2-202.1, 2-206, 2-301, 2-303, 3-501, 10-302)[2]

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