Bill on Extra Early Voting Site for Montgomery Co. Advances

    State lawmakers from Montgomery County moved one step closer Thursday to achieving their goal of setting up a 12th early voting center in the county — in a racially-diverse neighborhood where Montgomery leaders believe voters have had inadequate access to pre-election polling places.

    The Montgomery County House delegation’s Education, Elections and Housing Committee voted unanimously in favor of a bill by Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D) that would set up a 12th early voting center in the White Oak neighborhood of Silver Spring. The vote came after a short discussion.

    “That was easy,” said Del. Pamela Queen (D), chairwoman of the panel.

    Montgomery’s political leaders — all Democrats — have been pushing the county’s Board of Elections, which has a Republican majority, to establish a 12th early voting center in the county, but have encountered resistance. White Oak is a dense pocket on the county’s eastern edge where voters encountered excessive wait times during the 2016 general election.

    Luedtke’s bill as originally written would require that Montgomery County be permitted to open a 12th early voting center and lays out guidelines for the numbers of early voting centers for jurisdictions based on their population. Members of the delegation subcommittee added an amendment to Luedtke’s bill specifying that the 2020 early voting site be situated in White Oak.

    Going forward, under terms of the bill, the State Board of Elections, in conjunction with local boards, would designate early polling places in each jurisdiction no less than six months before the next primary date.

    The measure moves on to the full Montgomery House delegation, where it is scheduled for a vote on Friday morning.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.