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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Protecting the Integrity of the System in Maryland

In a recent Twitter post I took the Maryland Democratic Party to task for placing partisan politics above the interests of the voters of Maryland by producing an egregiously gerrymandered Congressional district map. I further criticized their plan to try and prevent the map from going before the voters by invalidating as many petitions signatures as possible:

congressional map is an affront to Democracy. Will they double down by attacking peoples right to petition? Let the people judge.

In response to my Tweet, the state party chose a diversion instead of a response:

MD Democratic Party
GOP crusade 4 voter ID as a ploy to disenfranchise Dem voters is the real affront to democracy but is silent on this

Of course there are no plans in Maryland to implement a voter ID law and as the petition drive is a Maryland issue I'm not sure why I would write about Republican voter ID reforms in other states.
What I have done is criticize the GOP in TX and NC and PA for engaging in the same partisan gerrymandering as Democrats in Maryland and Illinois. I don't oppose Maryland's new congressional maps because they help Democrats, I oppose the maps because they were drawn solely for the purpose of helping a national political party at the expense of representing the diversity of the state. I do not care which party "wins" or "loses" so long as the game is not rigged. Gerrymandering rigs the game to produce a certain outcome. Of 435 seats in Congress roughly 380 aren't even competitive. Most have been drawn to be safe for one party or the other. So much for Democracy.
I responded to the Maryland Democratic party with a simple question:
and how many Maryland voters will you disenfranchise by challenging their signatures on the redistricting petitions?

Today, as word came down that the State Board of Elections has certified enough valid signatures to move the new maps to the ballot, we all got an answer from the Maryland Democratic Party courtesy of party spokesperson Matt Verghese:
"Maryland has very strict verification standards on petition signatures based on court precedent, MD laws and regulations. Our priority is making sure that these standards have been met and the integrity of the process is maintained."
So there you have it. The Maryland Democratic Party is planning to mount a legal challenge to protect the integrity of the system against every petition signer who may have forgotten to include his middle initial, or may have forgotten that her full middle name appears on her voter registration card.  Some might call that voter suppression.

But there was something about Verghese's "integrity defense" that sounded familiar to me... and then I remembered. I had heard it before.

There is a federal lawsuit underway in Texas seeking to toss that state's new voter ID law. In response to the legal challenge, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a counter suit asking the U.S. District Court to implement the new voter photo ID.
Abbott defended the voter ID law saying "the state has the right to protect the integrity of its elections." He then cited voter ID precedent established by similar laws in Georgia and Indiana.
So there you have it... the Maryland Democratic Party wants to invalidate as many signatures as possible for the same reason the Texas GOP wants to require a photo ID for voting - to protect the integrity of the system.

Folks, there isn't enough integrity between the two parties to fill a thimble. The Congressional district maps created by Democrats in Maryland and the Republicans in Texas are a testimony to the parties' utter lack of integrity.

The one thing that the Maryland and Texas congressional maps share in common is the simple goal of marginalizing voter choice in an effort to predetermine a partisan outcome. GOP voter ID laws and the Maryland Democratic Party's plan to challenge already validated signatures each serve that same purpose.

If the Maryland Democratic Party is so damn proud of the monstrosity of a map they created then they should welcome the chance to have the voters pass judgment on it. The Board of Elections has already certified the signatures on the petitions - now let the people be heard.