Congressman Van Hollen on the Purple Line 450 x 280

Van Hollen Calls on State Board to Reject Proposal to Change Early Voting Sites in MoCo

Congressman Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to the Maryland Board of Elections this week urging the rejection of a proposal to change early voting sites in Montgomery County.

The Board is considering a proposal to eliminate early voting at the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Bethesda and the Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville, which Van Hollen said would make voting harder for thousands of residents.

“We should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote,” Van Hollen wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, the current early voting proposal makes it harder. It will create confusion, undercut early voting and same-day voter registration in 2016, and make it harder for low-income and elderly people and people of color to participate in our political process. I urge the Board to reject this proposal.”

You can read the full text of the letter, below:

“Dear Chairman McManus and Board Members:

“I am writing regarding the selection by the Montgomery County Board of Elections of early voting centers for the 2016 election cycle. The Board is considering a proposal to eliminate early voting at the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Bethesda and the Marilyn J. Praisner Community Recreation Center in Burtonsville. I believe that this proposal will have a major negative impact on the success of early voting in Montgomery County.

“During my time in Congress, I have fought to make it easier for every citizen to exercise the right to vote. Unfortunately, many Americans still face obstacles in registering to vote and casting a ballot, and a number of states in recent years have passed new laws that make it harder to vote. In Maryland, we have worked hard to increase access to the ballot box by expanding early and absentee voting and implementing online and same-day voter registration. These efforts make our elections more accessible and easy – especially for underrepresented groups – and strengthen our democracy.

“However, the proposal to change early voting locations in Montgomery County is a step in the wrong direction and endangers the very progress we have worked so hard to make.

“The Lawton Center is the only western down-county early voting site in the County and is within walking distance of the Bethesda Metro station. This makes it a convenient and highly accessible location by transit for many of our residents and the approximately 40,000 people who work in downtown Bethesda.

“The Praisner Community Center was the second highest performing site in the County, and early voting has occurred at this location for every election since 2010. The Center had the highest concentration of minority voters in 2014 and is highly accessible to the diverse growing populations and neighborhoods along Route 29. Eliminating this location puts these voters more than ten miles away from an early voting center.

“Since 2010, the State Board on a bipartisan basis has worked to increase access and convenience to early voting for as many Marylanders as possible. The Board’s election data show that voters closest to early voting centers vote early at the highest rates. Furthermore, early voting isn’t merely a matter of convenience but a recognition that some people find it harder to vote if they are working and have no paid time off, have to arrange child care, rely on public transit, or are elderly. This is why it is critical to preserve early voting locations in the highest density areas close to where people work and live, and that are well served by public transportation.

“We should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote. Unfortunately, the current early voting proposal makes it harder. It will create confusion, undercut early voting and same-day voter registration in 2016, and make it harder for low-income and elderly people and people of color to participate in our political process. I urge the Board to reject this proposal.

“Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen
Member of Congress”

 

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Congressman Van Hollen on the Purple Line 450 x 280

Congressman Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to the Maryland Board of Elections this week urging the rejection of a proposal to change early voting sites in Montgomery County. The Board is considering a proposal to eliminate early voting at the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Bethesda and the Marilyn J. Praisner Community […]

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In response to the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ decision to replace the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center for the Potomac Community Center as an early voting location for the 2016 elections, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner today issued the following statement: “I am deeply disappointed with the decision by the Montgomery County Board […]

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Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.

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