Maryland legislators learned last week the state’s electronic balloting system may need better security measures to protect voters’ information and that the lawmakers must be the ones to add those protections. The state’s electoral board told lawmakers Sept. 6 that they are powerless to make those changes, and that any security changes must come directly from the legislative body. Last year, the state’s Board of Elections voted 4-1 to certify a new system for online ballots, even though experts in cybersecurity and computer science publicly objected. While nearly all states have a system in place for signature verification, the General Assembly did not vote last year on the topic so there was no verification system in place, leaving Maryland as the only state in the nation without one, according to a report last year by Capital News Service.
Articles about voting issues in Maryland.
It turns out that the city of College Park did not have enough votes after all to grant voting rights to noncitizens, officials said Saturday. The College Park City Council voted 4-3 with one member abstaining Tuesday night on an amendment to the city’s charter that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. But charter amendments need six votes of the eight-member council, the city announced Saturday. That rule was changed in June, and the mayor and council members said they neglected to note that they needed six votes.
Maryland: Legislators Consider Improving Election Security after Hearing with State Voting Board | Southern Maryland News
Maryland legislators learned last week the state’s electronic balloting system may need better security measures to protect voters’ information and that the lawmakers must be the ones to add those protections. The state’s electoral board told lawmakers Sept. 6 that they are powerless to make those changes, and that any security changes must directly come from the legislative body. Last year, the state’s Board of Elections voted 4-1 to certify a new system for online ballots, even though experts in cybersecurity and computer science publicly objected. While nearly all states have a system in place for signature verification, the General Assembly did not vote last year on the topic so there was no verification system in place, leaving Maryland as the only state in the nation without one, according to a report last year by Capital News Service.
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear a Maryland gerrymandering claim at the same time as a similar challenge from Wisconsin. The court issued an order Wednesday denying the motion of Republican plaintiffs to have their case before the court at the same time as Democratic plaintiffs from Wisconsin. In U.S. District Court, the plaintiffs — who include three Republican voters from Frederick County — argued that the redrawn districts amount to an unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment right to free speech. The case arrived at the Supreme Court after two U.S. District Court judges denied 6th District voters’ request for a preliminary injunction to require a new map before the 2018 election. The judges also decided to place a hold on the case until the Supreme Court considered the Wisconsin case.
The city council and mayor of College Park are expected to decide Tuesday whether to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections, following a heated discussion among residents over the summer about the issue. The majority of residents who have submitted comments in the Washington suburb, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, support the amendment to allow green-card holders, undocumented immigrants and student-visa holders to vote in local elections, Mayor Patrick Wojahn said. The council postponed the initial vote, which was scheduled for a meeting on Aug. 8, so it could consider whether to hold a referendum to let voters decide. “My goal is to keep the conversation tomorrow civil and productive,” Wojahn said. “I’m hoping that we won’t have the circus around it that we had last time.”
Maryland: Federal court knocks down redistricting case as plaintiffs vow to appeal to Supreme Court | Baltimore Sun
A federal district court rejected a claim Thursday by seven Maryland Republicans that the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, setting up another Supreme Court fight over the heavily litigated maps. In a case closely watched by state political leaders, the court found the plaintiffs failed to meet the standard required to order an immediate redrawing of the boundaries. In a 2-1 decision, the court said it wanted to see the outcome of a separate gerrymandering claim from Wisconsin pending before the Supreme Court before deciding the Maryland lawsuit. “The time and resources necessary to implement a new map would surely have the effect of scuttling other legislative priorities in advance of the 2018 [legislative] session,” the court wrote. “The remedy would be highly consequential.”
The city of College Park, the Washington suburb that is home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, postponed a vote Tuesday on whether to extend municipal voting rights to noncitizens while it weighs whether to hold a referendum and let voters decide. The City Council had been expected to vote on whether noncitizens would be allowed to participate in the city’s November election but opted to wait until its Sept. 12 meeting to decide. The measure comes as leaders in some of Prince George’s County’s more liberal-leaning jurisdictions and in neighboring Montgomery County struggle to create policies that protect undocumented immigrants without getting in the crosshairs of the Trump administration.
As a federal commission searches for evidence of voter fraud and many states try to impose new voting restrictions, a city in Maryland may move in the opposite direction: allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections. In College Park, home to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus, the City Council is debating a measure introduced by Councilwoman Christine Nagle that would give noncitizens — a broad category that includes green card holders, students with visas and undocumented immigrants — the right to cast ballots for the city’s mayor, council members and other local officials. Startling though it may seem, the proposal has extensive precedent both in the United States and worldwide: Forty states used to allow noncitizen voting, and dozens of countries currently do.
Maryland: Amid immigration battles, College Park considers giving noncitizens voting rights | Baltimore Sun
Officials in College Park are weighing a plan that would make their city the largest in Maryland to give undocumented immigrants a right to vote in local elections, a long-standing practice elsewhere in the state that has drawn new scrutiny amid the simmering national debate over immigration. The Prince George’s County city, home of the flagship University of Maryland campus and some 30,000 residents, is considering a measure to let noncitizens cast ballots for mayor and City Council — making it the latest target in a movement that has had more success in Maryland than anywhere else in the United States. College Park officials are debating the charter amendment after a divisive national election in which immigration played a prominent part. Many left-leaning cities, including Baltimore, are now at odds with President Donald J. Trump’s initial efforts to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on immigration violations.
Though the drive from Mount Washington in Baltimore to Hunt Valley in Baltimore County spanned only 13 miles, the travelers passed through four different congressional districts. Members of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other groups stopped at four different restaurants along the way Sunday afternoon to highlight what they characterized as Maryland’s extreme gerrymandering, in which boundaries of districts are manipulated to favor a specific incumbent or political party. Opponents of the practice said they felt the momentum was with them to start redrawing district lines to be more compact and fair. In Maryland, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. But with the map drawn in 2011 by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and legislative leaders, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state’s House delegation by seven to one.