The nightmare that was the 2014 election of Larry Hogan as Maryland governor continues to reverberate throughout the state. Today’s seismic activity emanates from the offices of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, which is now under the control of a three member Republican majority led by James Shalleck. The elections board in every county in the state is controlled by the party holding the governor’s seat.
Montgomery County, the largest county in the state, has nine early vote locations, up from five in 2010, when early voting was first allowed in the state.
Here are the early vote sites from 2014, arranged by turnout at each location, first in the primary then in the general, with percentages in parentheses)
Silver Spring 3961 (21.0)
Rockville 2506 (13.3)
Burtonsville 2324 (12.3)
Wheaton 2222 (11.8)
Bethesda/Chevy Chase 2187 (11.6)
Gaithersburg 2032 (10.8)
Aspen Hill 1220 (6.5)
Damascus 518 (2.7)
In the general, there were some different outcomes, but not a lot.
Silver Spring 5740 (16.2)
Burtonsville 4988 (14.1)
Germantown 4549 (12.8)
Gaithersburg 4456 (12.6)
Rockville 4406 (12.4)
Wheaton 3997 (11.3)
Bethesda/Chevy Chase 3355 (9.5)
Aspen Hill 2485 (7.0)
Damascus 1468 (4.1)
So if you were eliminating early voting sites, you’d look really hard at Damascus, dontcha think? 518 early votes cast in 8 days of primary early voting – that’s like 65 per day. Get rid of that site if one has to go. And maybe Aspen Hill – pretty close to Rockville, pretty close to Wheaton and not very high turnout at all.
You clearly don’t think like a Republican, do you? The name of the game is voter suppression, boys and girls, and it’s come to Maryland and Montgomery County – today. Because one of the sites that I am advised by reliable sources was chosen to be eliminated was the Burtonsville site, at the Praisner Center, which was the third highest early voting site in the primary and second highest in the general – and which also happens to have the highest concentration of African-American voters in the county.
Also eliminated from the early vote sites is the Lawton Center in Bethesda/Chevy Chase, fifth highest in the primary and seventh in the general (in its first year as an EV site), and the only EV site in any proximity to Legislative District 16, which had the highrdy number of voters in the county. While the racial play here is not as stark as in Burtonsville, it’s still a pretty shameless political ploy and one intended to dampen down early voting turnout in Montgomery County.
What two bustling locations did the Board come up with to replace 23.9% of the primary EV total and 23.6% of the general? Why, that would be Brookeville (population 138) and Potomac, located only 4.1 miles from the Rockville early vote site at the County Executive Office Building. By comparison, the drive from Praisner to the nearest EV site is 10 miles (23 minutes) to the Silver Spring Civic Center or 11 miles (21 minutes) to Brookeville. All measurements and trip times are from Google Maps on a Monday evening just before 8:00 pm.
Does anyone really think that Potomac and Brookeville are going to come within a hundred miles of the volume of early votes cast in Burtonsville and Bethesda? If so, let’s you and I talk real estate, OK?
This is a blatant attempt to suppress minority turnout in the northeast corner of the county, where turnout was among the highest sites in the 2014 general, and only slightly less significant in the primary. Anybody up for a good old-fashioned election rights lawsuit?
Let’s keep an eye on this situation.