Friday, September 27, 2013

Navarro: We Must Protect Right to Vote for All

A resolution in support of action at all levels of government to improve and protect the right to vote of citizens in Montgomery County, Washington, D.C. and across the country was unanimously approved by the Montgomery County Council on Sept. 24. Council President Nancy Navarro was the chief sponsor of the “Right to Vote” resolution and the other eight Councilmembers were co-sponsors.

The resolution calls for creation of a task force that will review and offer recommendations to improve the election processes in Montgomery County. The resolution also calls for Congress to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Council President Navarro said the resolution “affirms the Council’s commitment to expanding participation in elections and protecting voting rights for all of our residents.”

The Council is now seeking applicants for the Right to Vote Task Force that will study state and local laws and practices that may affect the right to vote. The task force will develop plans and take action to promote early voting and same-day registration, develop plans for a comprehensive voter registration program and make recommendations for changes in state and local laws, regulations and practices.

Persons interested in serving on the committee should submit their letter of interest with a resume by 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 to Council President Nancy Navarro, Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, Md. 20850.  Letters can also be sent by email to county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov

In Montgomery County, elections are administered by the Montgomery County Board of Elections according to federal, state and County laws and regulations. Voter turnout was 66 percent of registered voters in the 2012 presidential election and 51 percent of registered voters in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

The State of Maryland recently expanded early voting, resulting in at least three new early voting centers for the 2014 elections, and adopted same-day voter registration during early voting.

The County Council created the Right to Vote Task Force to ensure that the County maximizes these new opportunities to make voting easy and accessible for every citizen. The task force will consist of up to 15 members, appointed by the Council, with a staff member from the County Board of Elections serving as an ex officio member. No more than two-thirds of the members may be registered to vote in the same political party. The Council will designate a chair and vice chair. The chair and vice chair must not be from the same party.

The task force must issue an interim report by Feb. 28 and a final report with recommendations by May 31, 2014. The Task Force must also submit a report by Feb. 28, 2015 that evaluates the efficacy and implementation of its recommendations during the 2014 general election.

In an event on Sept. 23 on the steps of the Council Office Building in Rockville,  Council President Navarro was be joined by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Council Vice President Craig Rice, Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen, State Senator Jamie Raskin, Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Bridget Newton and other community leaders.

 “With states like North Carolina and Texas rolling back voting rights and instituting draconian photo ID laws, the need for robust federal enforcement of election law is needed more than ever,” said Council President Navarro.