The Washington Time recently urged the League of Women Voters of Maryland to join an effort to expedite the purging of voters from the rolls in Montgomery County.   The League declined to support this effort, noting the many mistaken assumptions in the claim that there were too many people on the voter registration lists.

The organization Judicial Watch recently sent a letter to the Maryland State Board of Elections claiming that there were too many people on the Montgomery County voter registration rolls. In an editorial published on Sunday, April 23 the Washington Times urged the League of Women Voters and Common Cause to support the Judicial Watch proposal to speed up the removal of voters from the rolls. The League and Common Cause submitted the following letter, which appeared in the April 26 edition of the Washington Times.

In a Sunday editorial, the Washington Times urged the League of Women Voters and Common Cause to join an effort by Judicial Watch to remove voters from the registration rolls in Montgomery County. Based on our knowledge of Maryland’s voter registration system – much of it gained through hands-on service as election judges and voter registrars – we cannot support this misguided effort.

Judicial Watch’s expressions of alarm about the number of people on the voter rolls in Montgomery County reflected their lack of knowledge about the registration process rather than any malfunction of the system. Their letter to the State Board of Elections artfully referred to the total number of voters records, though they were aware that a large number of those are inactive voters who are in the process of being removed. Many people move from one location to another without notifying the Board of Elections. When, as a result, a Board of Elections mailing to those voters is returned by the Postal Service, that voter is placed in inactive status. After missing two election cycles, they are removed from the rolls but, as Judicial Watch well knows, they cannot be removed before that time unless the voter confirms their move.

Judicial Watch also neglected to note that the Census Bureau estimate on which they relied counts only those citizens over the age of 18. In Maryland, a citizen can register to vote at age 16 and their registration is held in inactive status until they turn 18. Also, a voter can vote in a primary if they will turn 18 before the general election. There are thousands of such voters in Montgomery County alone. Similarly, the Census estimates do not include citizens who are stationed overseas in the military, the diplomatic corps, or international organizations, though those citizens continue to have the right to vote.

Furthermore, the Maryland State Board of Elections already participates in a consortium of states who exchange voter registration and other government data to identify people who have moved or died, leading to thousands of corrections to voter registration rolls every month. Unlike the blanket removals from the rolls that Judicial Watch supports, Maryland’s procedures take care to avoid errors due to mistaken identities, giving notice to voters and an opportunity to correct mistakes.

Both of our organizations want every citizen to be able to vote and we will continue to work with boards of elections to maintain the integrity of the election process. We will not be joining any effort that is as careless about voters’ rights as the latest Judicial Watch publicity stunt.

Ralph Watkins
Vice President, Director of Voters’ Service
League of Women Voters of Maryland

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel
Executive Director
Common Cause Maryland


Link to published letter in The Washington Times