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Mailing Causes Consternation for Some Voters

State Board of Elections mails 1.1 million Maryland Voters in an effort to increase voter registration across the state.

UPDATED (2:48 p.m.)—A postcard mailed by the Maryland State Board of Elections has caused concern for some Maryland voters and increased work for local boards of elections.

The post card, mailed last week, was part of an effort by the Maryland State Board of Elections to verify voter registration records and register eligible voters, according to Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the state board of elections.

The agency attempted to match data between the voter registration rolls and state drivers license records.

"As with any data match, there were a number of false positives," said Goldstein.

About 1.1 million post cards were mailed. The state board of elections estimates the mailing was 98 percent accurate—meaning it reached residents who were eligible but not registered to vote.

Some of those estimated 22,000 "false positives" were the result of voters registering to vote under nickname while using their more formal name for their drivers license—something as simple as the difference between "Larry" and "Lawrence," said Goldstein.

Another set of "false positive" matches was generated by people who registered to vote under older laws that did not require a full date of birth.

"People who registered decades ago were only required to provide their age so we didn't have good dates of birth for them," said Goldstein.

The "false positives" generated a number of calls to some local boards of elections from confused and irritated voters.

Katie Brown, director of the Baltimore County Board of Elections, said part of the intention was to root out inconsistencies in the voter registrations.

"It was a good idea but it may have been bad timing," Brown said.

Martha Thaniel received one of the mailings last week.

"I've been voting for 50 years and I've never had a problem," said Thaniel, a 68-year-old Towson resident. "I was really upset when I got this. I've been registered for 50 years and I intend to vote in November."

Brown said in many cases the problems discovered in the records verification were small issues like the use of a middle initial on one record but not on another. In other cases, the issues were more serious, such as a non-matching birthday.

The more serious issues require voters to re-register. The deadline for registering or re-registering to vote is Oct. 16.

It's not known how many of the county's nearly 500,000 registered voters received a postcard from the state board of elections.

There are more than 3.5 million registered voters in Maryland, according to the most recent state board of elections statistics from August.

The mailings caused an increase in phone calls to the Baltimore County Board of Elections, Brown said.

"It was crazy last week with all the calls and we're getting some this week," Brown said. "People were very upset. Most of the feedback from staff was that these were simple issues and a new registration was not needed."

Thaniel said she never found out what triggered the post card for her but she did not have to re-register to vote. Not that she would have been deterred.

"Even if [the board of elections] didn't say it was 'OK' I was going up there to vote," Thaniel said. "They were just going to have to stop the line."

Goldstein said that overall, the program was successful.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in voter registration," said Goldstein

Joe October 11, 2012 at 04:56 PM
DawnP, the courts are approving these laws BECAUSE no one is being disenfranchised!!!! What is hard to understand? You continue to push non existent BS that the courts are rejecting.
JustABill October 12, 2012 at 04:43 AM
So once again we are debating about what laws are OK to break and what laws are not. It is the LAW in Maryland for anyone 18 or over to posses a state issued ID at all times. That can either be a drivers license or a state ID card formerly known as an Age of Majority Card. So if it is the LAW for EVERYONE 18 and over to have a state issued ID card and you have to be 18 or older to vote and if everyone is obeying the law this should be a moot issue. By the way 46 other states require everyone 18 or over to posses a state issued ID card so seriously ... where is the problem here? I agree that if one person is denied the right to vote that is unacceptable. However, if one person's vote is negated because one vote was cast illegally is that not just as unacceptable or even worse?
Grand Dad October 12, 2012 at 07:54 PM
That is correct JustABill, each illegal vote cast nullifies a valid vote which is unacceptable. Especially when voting results can 'turn out' to be very close in certain districts/precincts, counties, and states. My first thought was to use Eye Retinal to resolve this issue.. But then learned that it can be tricked and is not a perfect solution to discourage voting fraud. http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/26/3188518/synthetic-iris-scanning-security So the next thought that no one, including myself, wants to hear is the infamous computer chip embedded under our skin. That should definitely solve the Voter ID problem and possibly numerous others that come up from time to time in our society. Let's stamp out cheating in any form.
Leslie Schildgen October 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Justabill. .. I didn't know is was Maryland law for 18 and older people to have a state issued ID at all times. Now all we have to do is make it law that anyone who votes must show a photo ID. If you're too lazy not to meet this requirement then you don't deserve to vote.
FIFA October 12, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Just a problem that does not exist, it will never change an election, never has. All of you miss the most important threat to voting integrity, which is security of the electronic vote tabulation. Where is your concern there? No receipts, no paper trail. You chase ghosts while the elephant in the room just changes the count!
jag October 12, 2012 at 08:04 PM
JustABill, where on earth do you get all your "facts" you always post???? "It is the LAW in Maryland for anyone 18 or over to posses a state issued ID at all times." This is BLATANTLY and unequivocally INCORRECT. "By the way 46 other states require everyone 18 or over to posses a state issued ID card" This is BLATANTLY and unequivocally INCORRECT.
jag October 12, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Oh jesus, JustABill. You already found someone stupid enough to believe you instead of actually, you know, checking the facts.
Leslie Schildgen October 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
JAG: who you callin' stupid. . . idiot
Leslie Schildgen October 12, 2012 at 08:47 PM
This blog is for conversation, not a test for accuracy. I bet there are a lot of people that may have believed that statement. I don't fact check on a casual blog site. So there . . . stupid
JustABill October 12, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Ummm jag ... You Sir are BLATANTLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY WRONG! ... I have confirmed that this is in FACT a Law in Maryland by several current members of the General Assembly from both parties and also confirmed it is a current law in 46 other states, although some have set different age requirements ranging from ages 16 to 21.
JustABill October 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I have to take a moment to accept the reality of FIFA and I actually in agreement on something. Yes the electronic voting machines should include a printed paper trail in the form of an individual receipt for the voter to view and then give to the election judge to keep if there is a contested vote count from that polling place. This should also be backed up with an internal journal receipt printed with all the votes cast on each machine in a given day for the same purpose. Only why use the metaphor of the elephant in the room. What if it is a donkey in the room? Is that supposed to be OK? Why not just say while someone cheats the system and leave it at that. However, voter fraud does exist regardless of how much you wish to deny it does. We have living proof if it in the form of a now former Democrat candidate for congress and as I said even just one fraudulently cast vote is equally as unacceptable as one disenfranchised vote so why not fix both ends of the system in one simple piece of legislation. They could call it the Fair Voting For All Act.
CB9678 October 13, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Please cite which COMAR regulation this falls under. I could not find it.
CB9678 October 13, 2012 at 01:33 AM
A few things. No one said voter fraud does not exist. The debate is the extent of it. Wendy Rosen would not have been caught requiring an ID. Second of the 869 convictions for voter fraud since 2000. Yes in 12 years that is all the voter fraud convictions in the whole nation. Only 7 of them involved in person fraud. The other 862 ALL involved fraudulent casting of absentee ballotts for registered voters. More common than voter fraud is vote buying which occurs in Appalcia on a much grander scale and also takes place via absentee ballot! I imagine his use of the elephant metaphor has nothing to do with party and everything to do with the established and long existing metaphor in the english language. It would not matter if it was a Koala Bear in the room!
CB9678 October 15, 2012 at 01:14 AM
As I thought......you can't!
Kathy October 15, 2012 at 01:19 PM
If a "high turnout" favors same sex marriage and the Dream Act, doesn't that mean that a high number of citizens are in favor of those things? Shouldn't we have as high a turnout as possible in order to correctly assess the will of The People?
Kathy October 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Chillin--do you really believe that 40% of citizens don't care about the issues, their job, homes or children? Or is it that they obviously don't understand the issues or care about anything if they are planning on voting for the other party?
Kathy October 15, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Even in conversation or on a blog, we should be striving for accuracy. The lies and misleading statements coming out of this campaign, on both sides, is not only making the elective process a joke, it is making all of us less educated about issues. We should be compulsively checking for the accuracy of all political statements--and yes, we should be letting the "Fact Checkers" dictate the statements coming out of political campaigns. Making up a statistic or a "fact" is lying.
Amy Leahy October 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax. Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. AMENDMENT XXIV Would like to disagree that transportation costs are a tax. That from the Leahy Court of Special Appeals. Ever wonder how these folks who don't drive go buy groceries or go to the doctor? They manage somehow, don't they?
Amy Leahy October 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM
M. Sullivan - EXACTLY! The Democrats want to make sure they stay in power (with the congressional redistricting), get their revenue increase (with expanded gambling) and get more votes (with the same sex marriage and the instate tuition for illegal immigrants). This is one case of transparency which they fail to abide by in any other dealings with the public.
FIFA October 15, 2012 at 02:01 PM
JustABill - thank you for agreeing with me. The metaphor "elephant in the room" is a commonly used metaphor and is not a political statement. You may use whatever large object you like, I have used that statement for over 30 years largely in an auditing concept. Don't chase little things while the big "thing" is the important one is what was meant by the statement. New "political correctness" I guess. CB9678 is correct, voter "fraud" does exist, it is just not meaningful as his facts point out. Voter ID fraud rarely occurs and in the case of the dumb Democrat would not have prevented multiple voting.
Steve October 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM
LOL It doesn't just happen in Appalachia. The Florida Republicans just got busted in South Florida for ballot/voter fraud. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2012-10-11/news/florida-republicans-ballot-fraud-2012/
CB9678 October 15, 2012 at 07:30 PM
no was talking about vote buying.
CB9678 October 15, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Yes Amy but as some have said....a tax is a fee! There is a fee to get an ID card. The only ones which have been found constitutional make provisions for this like Sout Carolina which accepts an affidavit to cast a regular ballott or Virginia and a handful of states which in many cases accept recent utility bills or bank statements! Or Finally offer a free ID 365
B Allen October 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM
DawnP, what the heck are you talking about, "voter ID cheerleaders", now that is a very ignorant statement. How the heck do you think that people get to cash their welfare checks, social security checks, personal checks, etc? I go to the bank and have been a customer for almost 30yrs there to make a transaction and I am still asked to show ID at times. You dawnp are voter ID ignorant.
B Allen October 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM
you libbies are fooling yourselves. People have ID's, even the poor and the elderly. You just hear what these left wing nutjob groups tell you and you carry their water. Even people on welfare have ID's to get their checks. A friend of ours is here illegally and she and her children have IDs to get a government check.
Steve October 20, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Cashing checks at the bank isn't protected by the Constitution is it?
CB9678 October 20, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Steve not everyone has a state ID card. In states like Virginia no one complains about their ID law because they accept a wide array of documents and not all of them need to have a photo. It is the state ID only laws that draw the most consternation and the ones that put up obstacles to obtaining those ID's like you can only obtain one for free on the 5th Wednesday of the month before noon (yes one of the newer laws was written like that). Only 18 States do not require or request an ID. BTW you are just as gulty as your illegal friend in my book. You enable her extended stay by not turning her in. As to the check are her children US Citizens?
CB9678 October 20, 2012 at 06:44 PM
B.Allen Banks frequently take a wide array of non photo ID's as well. When Voter ID laws are written and implemented properly no one has an issue or questions intent. When they are rushed within a year of the election and make getting a free ID a challenge than we question the intent and timing. No one cares about Georgia's law or Indiana's because it is well implemented.
Leslie Schildgen October 22, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Kathy: I don't have time during the work day to take this blog that seriously to "fact check". Get a life
Kathy October 23, 2012 at 09:05 AM
It is easier just to spread misinformation without checking for accuracy, but your grades will reflect that when you get into high school. (I assume from the tenor of your remarks that you are currently in 7th or 8th grade? It was the "get a life" comment that gave it away.) But as I used to tell my children, it is not nice to call people "stupid."

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