As Maryland Radically Liberalizes Voting Laws, Media Remains Silent

Here in Annapolis, Maryland, local, state, and national media remained silent while Democrats in the General Assembly quietly overrode no less than three vetos by Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich, making Maryland's voting laws the least transparent and most liberal in the nation. From local and state news sources, not a word was breathed. From the national media, including, even, Fox News... Nothing!

Only author and WSJ columnist John Fund seems to have noted Maryland's radical moves towards their new "vote early and often" elections policy. As Fund aptly notes:

It should normally be difficult to pick the worst state legislature in America, but Maryland's is way out in front. First it overrode GOP Gov. Bob Ehrlich's veto of a special health-care tax on Wal-Mart. Democratic legislators then passed three election-related bills and again mustered the necessary three-fifths votes to overturn his vetoes. Together the election laws would so weaken safeguards against voter fraud as to make Maryland the nation's prime example of Election Day irresponsibility.

The gravity of the changes is causing dismay, and not just for the governor. A bipartisan state advisory commission headed by the revered George Beall, the former U.S. attorney who convicted Spiro Agnew of tax evasion, had urged legislators to sustain the Ehrlich vetoes...

Blair Lee IV, the son of a former Democratic governor who is supporting an Ehrlich opponent this year, questions why Democrats are "pushing through such dangerous election laws opposed by nonpartisan election officials." He warns his party that "nothing is more important than the integrity of elections--not even defeating the Republicans in November."

But partisan tensions are now at flood level in Annapolis. Mr. Ehrlich, the first GOP governor in four decades, claims some Baltimore Sun writers are so unfair he won't cooperate with them. For his part, State Senate President Mike Miller boasted this month to his caucus that "we're going to shoot [Republican leaders] down. We're going to bury them face down in the ground, and it'll be 10 years before they crawl out again." Startled Republicans hope to collect 50,000 signatures calling for a November referendum on one or more of the election bills, a move that would block them from taking effect until after a vote.

Other than Mr. Fund's enlightening article and a brief mention of these and other Maryland legislative issues in a Washington Times Op Ed, the media has remained nearly silent. The only other mention to be found was an article written by Richard Hasen in Slate Magazine. In his article, Mr. Hasen focused a great deal of his energy on bashing Republicans for enacting "election reform on a partisan basis" -- i.e., enacting voter identification laws -- but makes the briefest of mentions -- about two sentences -- regarding the changes wrought in Maryland. Mr. Hasen, whose article was nearly 1500 words long, would say only this of Maryland's election changes:

(And it should be noted that Republicans are not the only ones who know how to enact election reform on a partisan basis. Witness the controversy over Maryland's new election reforms.)

Truly, Mr. Hasen's mention of Maryland's controversial liberalization of its voting laws is the merest of afterthoughts. What Mr. Hasen fails to do, however, is note that these so-called "reforms" were obtained only after overriding Governor Ehrlich's vetos three times in a one-month period! Mr. Hasen also fails to note that Democrats in Maryland may soon be overriding the Governor a fourth time as they push through their next so-called "election reform" bill, which allows convicted criminals to register and vote in Maryland immediately after being released from jail.

At least, though, it can be said of Mr. Hasen, a Loyola Law School professor, that he took some notice of changes being made in Maryland. The question now remains, what about the rest of the media? And it is appropriate to question the integrity of local Maryland media on this issue, even above the national media. After all, many issues aired by the national media come directly from local and state news sources.

So, why the virtual white-out of such an important issue, one which many Maryland Democrats are likely to care about as well? Why does the media not even take the time to praise Maryland's GA for it's heroic override of three gubernatorial vetos?

If one were to Google the issue of "election reform" as it relates to "Republican efforts" throughout the US, you would find no shortage of media attention, at every level. But this effort, here in Maryland, as ground-breaking and earth-shattering as it is, is a non-event in the eyes of the media.

This is not just a simple oversight on their part. After all, quite a few journalists and media establishments have called for exactly these kinds of "reforms," especially after the 2000 and 2004 elections. Well, Maryland's GA has done exactly that, and, in the process overrode 14 other gubernatorial vetos, just in January of this year.

Where's the outrage? Where's the praise? Where in the world are the heroic men and women of the media?

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