Maryland Governor vetoes bill allowing early voting

Released May 22, 2005

On May 20, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich chose to veto Senate Bill 478, legislation to establish in-person early voting in Maryland. The Right to Vote Initiative, a program of FairVote, presented the following comment:

“The FairVote Right to Vote Initiative is deeply disappointed with Governor Ehrlich's veto of Senate Bill 478 — Election Law — Early Voting. Thirty-five states already enjoy the benefits of early voting in person, which include: reduced lines on election day; more convenient voting times for people with inflexible schedules; a means for people to accommodate last minute schedule changes when they occur too late to apply for an absentee ballot; a means to avoid the long turnaround time for voting by mail; and a chance to work out any flaws in the election system before the large number of votes are cast on election day.

“Although we share the Governor's concerns about voter fraud, we disagree with his assertion that early voting presents a greater opportunity for fraud than election day voting. If reforms to ensure the integrity of elections are needed, they should be undertaken in addition to early voting, not at its expense. If the legislature does not override the governor's veto, we support at a minimum the appointment of a commission to study early voting and urge the Governor to ensure that this process is undertaken on a timetable directed at the next state election. We further recommend that Maryland establish a standing committee to review voting laws and practices that may inhibit participation or shortchange the right to vote.”

The Right to Vote Initiative is organized around the principle that we must vigorously uphold the right to vote, treating it as a right of the greatest importance rather than as a privilege that the federal government, states and localities can protect haphazardly and unequally. The Initiative is a program of FairVote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization led by former presidential candidate John B. Anderson and FairVote executive director Rob Richie.

For more information, contact Ryan Griffin of the Right to Vote Initiative at or (301) 270-4616.