Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced on Friday that he intends to propose extended early voting days, according to the Washington Post .
Though Maryland already offers early voting, the move will also herald same-day registration for those casting their ballots. The move is being criticized by state Republicans as being an opportunity to increase voting fraud.
Here are the details regarding the proposal and how early voting is being viewed in the region.
Hours extended at early voting locations
The Baltimore Sun described the changes, saying that the governor's proposal includes adding three early voting sites to the current five sites in three jurisdictions, Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore counties. The proposal would also add two each to Frederick and Harford counties. Baltimore City and Howard will keep their current numbers.
The number of days and hours will change as well, allowing voting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for presidential elections and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on other elections. Instead of running for six days, early voting would run for eight days, adding a total of 44 hours to presidential elections and 34 hours for other elections.
Republicans skeptical of purpose, motivation
Del. Kathy Afzali, R-Frederick, threw cold water on O'Malley's proposal, according the the Washington Post. "I think more early voting is very unnecessary. It will cost more money," she said.
Afzali serves on the election law subcommittee in the house.
Afazali also hinted that there may be self-interest at stake in the governor's move, saying that "everything the governor does is for partisan advantage."
David Ferguson, Executive Director of the Maryland Republican Party, also sounded off against the proposal, which will be voted on by a predominately Democratic General Assembly. "Anytime Gov. O'Malley and Democrats start messing with election law, I'm suspicious," he said in the Washington Post.
Virginia rejects early voting moves
In neighboring Virginia, Democrats tried to bring Virginia in among the 34 states permitting early voting, but the two General Assembly panels dominated by Republicans killed House bills allowing less-restrictive voting, according to another report from the Associated Press .
The House Privileges and Elections subcommittee and the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee each killed several bills aimed at making voting easier, despite four-hour waits at some polling places last November.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington in Germantown, Md.
- Politics & Government