Volunteers, interest groups and any individuals who want to print out the proper forms are rushing to register voters as Maryland’s deadline looms less than two weeks away. But while recent voter-registration scandals have been cause for concern in some states, the state Board of Elections said the focus in Maryland is on voter roll maintenance, not registration fraud prevention. “There’s a process in place, a very specific process that we work through,” said Ross Goldstein, spokesman for the board. “We meet the letter of the law with respect to voter registration list maintenance.” Prominent businessman and voter-registration drive leader Nathan Sproul, who runs Strategic Allied Consulting, is at the center of a voter-fraud registration scandal in Florida. Sproul, who has consulted prominent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney, was linked to hundreds of forms containing irregularities, including suspicious signatures and missing information in nine Florida counties. Voter-registration fraud such as this, or when firms don’t send in forms for voters from the opposite party, is insidious, said Paul Herrnson, director for the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland.
“People who believe they have taken the actions to register to vote show up on Election Day and then find out they aren’t able to vote,” Herrnson said. While Herrnson calls such actions “heinous,” he said it’s not something he thinks is an issue in Maryland, even in a year when there are three high-profile referendums on the ballot. “Maryland is a pretty clean state in terms of its politics, and the competition for the presidential election isn’t very large,” Herrnson said. “Things that go on in other states don’t seem to happen here. Not that they can’t, but they don’t.” While recent presidential campaigns in Maryland have been dominated by Democrats, and therefore not competitive, Marylanders are voting on three contentious referendums in November. The ballot questions on same-sex marriage, the Dream Act and casinos have raised the political stakes during this presidential cycle, with both in- and out-of-state organizations pouring millions of dollars into the campaigns.