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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General’s Task Force on Voting Irregularities
Submits First Report
Includes 13 Recommendations for Policy Changes

BALTIMORE, MD (April 29, 2008) –Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s Task Force on Voting Irregularities today released the first of two reports to the Attorney General containing 13 recommendations for improving the voting process in Maryland. Attorney General Gansler created the Task Force in May 2007 to examine election irregularities and obstacles to voting in recent elections and to make recommendations for policy changes. Co-chaired by Professor Sherrilyn Iffil and Orlan Johnson, Esq., the Task Force held public hearings over the last year across Maryland to hear first hand from citizens the problems they encountered when they attempted to cast their vote.

The Task Force found that many of the issues brought to its attention will require long-term solutions and changes. However, given the urgency of the 2008 General Election, the Task Force decided to issue its report in two parts. The first report is limited to identifying and addressing problems that can be addressed in time for the General Election this year. Later this year, the Task Force will issue a second report describing some of the long-term solutions that should be taken up by legislative, administrative and executive officers in the State to improve the conduct of elections.

The list of 13 recommendations made by the Task Force in the first report are:

  • A review of governance and key election management practices;
  • Increased transparency of election board processes and public access;
  • Uniformity of and improved training for local election officials on election procedures;
  • An assessment and public release by local boards of planned allocation of voting machines and technicians for each polling place;
  • Increased efforts by the Attorney General in promoting voter education and election protection efforts, and provisions of election day hotlines services by the Attorney General to address misleading campaign ads and voter questions;
  • Ensuring compliance with voter registration requirements of the federal National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) in public agencies;
  • Enforcement of procedures for physical layout of election machines at polling places to increase voter privacy;
  • A review of procedures for informing judges at polling places and the public of court decisions mandating extended voting hours on election day;
  • The creation of more effective signage and information on ballot questions provided to voters on election day;
  • Improved voter registration efforts for ex-offender population;
  • Provisions made for voting of eligible pre-trial detainees;
  • Address organized voter suppression efforts and review of rationale for police presence at local polling places; and,
  • Review of and attention to proper procedures mandated for meaningful access to voting for disabled voters.

“The health of our democratic system depends on our ability to ensure that all citizens entitled to vote may do so,” said Attorney General Gansler. “I am appreciative of the hard work and expertise of the members of the Task Force as they committed to completing this report over the last year. It is my hope that as elected officials we take these recommendations and put them into practice to improve the voting process across Maryland.”


MEMBERS OF THE TASK FORCE:

Christopher Brown is a partner in the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy. He has extensive experience litigating voting rights cases in the state of Maryland.

Kimberly Haven is executive director of Justice Maryland, a statewide advocacy organization and its voter re-enfranchisement campaign Maryland, Got Democracy. In 2007, she became the first newly re-enfranchised former felon to exercise her right to vote. Haven lives and works in Baltimore City.

Sherrilyn A. Ifill is a civil rights lawyer and a law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Moonyene Jackson-Amis, Esq is an elected official in Talbot County Maryland serving a second, four-year term on the Easton Town Council.

Deborah Jeon is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. She has done extensive work on voting rights issues, much of it on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Orlan Johnson is a partner at Saul Ewing, LLP and assistant adjunct professor at Howard University School of Law.

Darryl Jones is a lawyer who serves as the representative from District 1 on the County Council of Anne Arundel County.

John Morris is an attorney in Baltimore.

Josue Pierre is an attorney with the Law Office of J. Pierre, PC. He has been involved with various campaigns for political office in municipal, county, and state elections. Pierre lives and works in Prince Georges County.
Lu Pierson, Baltimore City, is president of the Maryland League of Women Voters, and a former member of the Baltimore City Election Board and State Election Board.

Carl O. Snowden is a former three-term member of the Annapolis City Council. He currently serves as director for the Office of Civil Rights in the Office of the Maryland Attorney General.

Gregory Wims is a businessman and the former president of the Montgomery County of the NAACP.

John Willis is a former Maryland Secretary of State, professor at the University of Baltimore.
A copy of the Task Force report can be found here.


   

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