A pair of election-related bills have been introduced into the Maryland General Assembly at a time when voting rights have been a front-and-center issue across much of the country.
State Delegate Robert Long, R-Baltimore County, is the sponsor of HB0099, which would require residents voting by absentee ballot to furnish a signature and have it verified. Long also is the sponsor of HB0113, legislation that would require proof of identity for in-person voting.
The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Jan. 25 on the bills.
Long said the bills were drafted in response to concerns he heard from constituents about voting integrity.
“We need to take the obstacles out of the way that caused the divisions in this country,” Long said. “I believe that this will bring us together and make sure our voting is transparent and fraud-free.”
But the panel heard from one organizer who adamantly opposed the measures – particularly HB0113, which would require a constitutional amendment to come into law, meaning voters would have to weigh in on the proposal.
“I think we should put it on the ballot and let the voters make a choice,” Long said. “Our democracy is in a very fragile state right now.”
Lisa Klingenmaier with the group Marylanders Against Poverty described HB0113 as “a solution looking for a problem.”
“We strongly oppose this legislation,” Klingenmaier said. “There are numerous studies out there that state there is no widespread voter fraud.”
Delegate Jason Buckel, R-Allegany County, asked if Klingenmaier and others within MAP would support a state-funded program that would give disenfranchised communities a photo ID without cost.
“Wouldn’t that help them in life?” Buckel said, pointing out the ID could be used for purposes beyond voting.
Klingenmaier said MAP likely would throw its support behind such a measure as a standalone bill, but not under the context of HB0113.
“We would not support that as a part of being able to vote,” she said.
Resident Wayne Adamson also provided testimony supporting HB0113.
Speaking to the proposed requirement of a photo ID, Adamson said, “It’s certainly worked well in other states, and I think it’s something we should add in the state of Maryland.”
When asked by the panel, Jared DeMarinis, director of the Maryland Board of Elections, said there were no glaring irregularities spotted within the state in the contentious 2020 election.
Regardless, Long said he is hopeful more steps will be put in place in the future.
“Perception is reality,” Long said. “From the people I’ve talked to, there’s mistrust with voting, and the way it’s taking place. We’re trying to bring back those voters who vote. I’m looking forward to a more rigorous conversation about this.”
This article was originally published on TheCenterSquare.com.