The Code Home Rule Vote
Thank you to every Calvert County voter who pulled the lever "against" code home rule. This ballot proposal was resoundingly rejected by a 2-to-1 vote of the citizens who realized that code home rule is not the form of government for us.
Commissioners President David F. Hale (R) and Susan Shaw (R), who supported code home rule, state that opponents spread "misinformation" and "propaganda." This is clearly not true. The fact is that their "propaganda," in the form of an "informational" report -- which arrived, in some instances, only one day prior to the election -- was a one-sided attempt to mislead the public. It was a grossly biased publication, which did not offer any time frame for questions.
This is now the second time that code home rule has been placed on a ballot, and once again, the citizens have spoken loudly and clearly as they defeated this bad legislation.
Vote Deserves Salute
Thank you to Linda L. Kelley (R) for being the one voice of honesty and reason on our Board of County Commissioners. You explained code home rule so Calvert voters understood it. Thanks also to Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert) George W. Owings III, state secretary of Veterans Affairs Grace Rymer; and all the others who manned the phones to ask voters to vote no on code home rule. The very idea of eliminating the checks and balances, and then requiring 10 percent of all county voters to sign for a referendum within a few days of a new tax, is not what democracy is all about. I salute the 2-to-1 vote of the informed Calvert County voters (all precincts) who voted it down.
I'm Jim Meadows, and I approved this message. Thank you.
Thanks, Election Workers
This is a letter of thanks to some of the people that made the election a success in our county. There are so many people who worked hard to make Charles County the best on that Tuesday, it's difficult to single anyone out; but let me try.
I want to start with our team at McDonough High School. Thanks all you team members for a hard two days of work. There are too many to mention, but you know who you are. As chief election judge at McDonough, I was a little apprehensive about Tuesday. But after meeting with you all Monday night, I soon found out I shouldn't have been. So, again, thanks for making my job easier while doing a terrific job as election judges. I would like to thank my partner and our other chief judge, Susan Richman, for her great job, and Brian Bachelor, who is a lifesaver.
I want to thank the staff at Maurice J. McDonough High, starting with Principal Garth Bowling who was very gracious in letting us use his school and its staff; Brad Snow, who worked with us and bent over backward to accommodate us in every way; and Mary Butler for staying late to help clean up our mess. I want to give a special thanks to Dwayne Hancock, who for years has worked with us in setting up and supplying the election area. It's safe to say that without Mr. Hancock's help, we couldn't have a smooth running election. Thank you, sir.
Last but not least, I want to thank the staff at "Election City." These people worked 15 hours a day so all of us could vote what we felt. Thanks for being so nice to work for, thanks for the training.
So, thanks "Dopper" (Dorothy Duffield, county election director), Helen Wise, Claire Mower, Tracy Dickerson and Chris McDougal. Great job; well done. See you in two years.
William D. Shisler
Reporting on the Election
Your reporting of the election problems and disturbance at the Patuxent High School in Calvert County . . . made a villain into a hero and a hero into a villain. You reported that one John L. Zalusky successfully challenged the election judges for failure to allow 14 Democrats and a Republican to cast provisional ballots even though they did not appear on voter registration lists anywhere in Maryland and was kicked out of the polling place for his efforts. The election judges were following their given instructions, and when those instructions were reversed, they and the Sheriff's Office made every effort to correct the situation. Note that these were provisional ballots and with the registrations questionable, the probability of them being counted is problematic. The sheriff's deputies could not locate all of the people because some apparently did not live in the area. Surprise, surprise.
Zalusky is quoted as saying that he has never been treated so badly. Did your reporter ask why Zalusky was in the polling place in the first place? Given that he was in the polling place and assuming that he had the authority to protest, did he do so politely and leave? Did the villainous election judge call the police because Zalusky dare question her? No, he was electioneering in the polling place. When first denied, he loudly demanded a lawyer and disrupted the polling, shouting at the judge. That was when the sheriff was called.
After being removed from the polling place by the sheriff's deputies, Zalusky moved beyond the 300-foot perimeter and resumed taunting voters and poll workers as he had been doing since before the polls opened. One voter tried to file a complaint about the taunting to an election worker inside the polling area but was told that the offense occurred outside the polling area so they could do nothing. In hindsight I should have called the police from the perimeter area. . . . This was not reported either.
Zalusky is no hero, and the election judges are not villains. Even backwater editions of The Washington Post from the backwaters in Calvert County should verify their facts before publishing an article.
Precinct 1-6, Lusby
On Nov. 2, along with almost 37,000 fellow Calvert county residents, I was able to successfully cast my vote at Patuxent High School. It was fortunate that the process went well in my case. Unfortunately, it did not work at all for many of our fellow residents. It wasn't until 4 p.m. on Election Day that the Calvert County Board of Elections permitted the distribution of provisional ballots to members of our community who, for whatever reason, had problems voting when they believed they were legally entitled to do so. This decision, mandated to the election judges by the Elections administrator for Calvert County, resulted in 10 hours of active voting without any means for offering a fail-safe alternative in case of an error in the precinct roster and provided no means of recourse for the citizens who were refused the right to vote during those hours.
The following statement appears on the Maryland State Board of Elections Web site: "The provisional ballot is a safeguard that ensures that no individual who asserts that he or she is registered and eligible to vote will be prevented from casting a ballot on Election Day. The provisional ballot will only be counted after the local board of elections has reviewed the provisional ballot application and made a determination that the individual is registered and eligible to vote."
Additionally, the guidelines for using a provisional ballot, defined by the state of Maryland, are posted on the site and can be viewed at: www.elections.state.md.us/registered_voters/election_day_faq.html.
Roughly summarized, the following statements outline who is eligible for a provisional ballot:
* A person is not on the precinct register. The ballot must be filed in the precinct where the voter lives at the time of the election; and the individual must be registered to vote in the state of Maryland.
* You were unable to provide required identification. Proper identification still needs to be provided by the time the local elections board meets, which is the first Monday after the election.
* You are ineligible to vote a regular ballot. This could happen if you possibly requested an absentee ballot and did not send it in or did not receive one. In this case, the election board will certify that an absentee ballot was not submitted in your name.
* Ensuring that your vote will not be counted twice. This could also happen if you failed to sign a change of address form more than 21 days before the election and did not provide a new address to the board of elections. If you vote a provisional ballot at the polling place for your former residence, only the votes that you are eligible to cast based on your new address will be counted. If you opt to go to your new polling place, you will still be required to vote a provisional ballot, but your full ballot will be counted.
* Your right to vote was challenged. Maryland law authorizes a poll watcher to challenge the identity of a voter at the polling place.
The very core of democracy and most salient right shared by our citizens is the right to choose our elected officials. When the election officials in this county made the decision, either by misinterpretation of the law or by failing to clearly direct the election judges, many of our neighbors may have been denied their right to vote. If you are a Calvert County resident who was turned away from the polls on Nov. 2 without casting your vote and were not offered a provisional ballot, I encourage you to contact either the Calvert County Board of Elections at 410-535-2214 or the Maryland State Board of Elections at 800-222-8683. Tell them your story. Tell them you want your vote counted. Tell them not to allow this to happen again in our county.
Stay Involved in Town
The recent Chesapeake Beach elections should prove to be a "win-win" outcome for all. Interest in Chesapeake Beach politics is at an all-time high. Our newer folks have joined the rest of the town residents in terms of enthusiasm and passion for our wonderful bayside town. Like never before, the citizenry is keeping abreast of issues that affect their lives. The next step is to take an active role by attending our monthly council meetings and participating in our small town government in some fashion. This ingredient makes for a better town.
On the flip side, we have a strong, experienced (and hopefully independent) team of leaders returning to Town Hall, mixed with the energy of new blood. Along with our superb town staff, this group will be committed to offering more exciting improvements and continued good services to the town over the next four years.
Now that over 1,400 people made their way to Town Hall on Nov. 2, I say: "C'mon down every third Thursday at 8 p.m. for your monthly meetings."
I offer my sincere gratitude to the entire town for choosing me, by such an overwhelming majority once again, to serve as your councilman.
Pat "Irish" Mahoney
Member, Town Council
Other, Greater Road Needs
On Nov. 5, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) made the grand tour of Southern Maryland touting three projects, highlighted by the groundbreaking of the Hughesville Bypass (as reported in Southern Maryland Extra Nov. 7).
With all due respect to the governor, the Hughesville Bypass, Calvert County road improvements and La Plata's streetscape are well-conceived transportation expenditures. However, of far greater concern to the majority of residents in Charles and St. Mary's counties is their daily commute to Washington, D.C., and its nearby suburbs. By 2007, you will have a Hughesville Bypass.
But, what is our state going to do about Route 5 and U.S. 301 improvements around Waldorf and northward through the Brandywine/Accokeek roads and Surratts Road intersectionsthat today are already choked with endless traffic delays as early as six in the morning and three in the afternoon, both continuous for nearly four-hour stretches?
Although there have been 93 car crashes and one fatality over five years around Hughesville, six persons have lost their lives needlessly in the past two months along U.S. 301 in Brandywine. While human lives are the greatest cost; lost time and wasted fuel sitting in daily backups affect commuters adversely daily.
By placing the urgency of the Hughesville project over any improvements in Waldorf or southern Prince George's County, you have created the ultimate bottleneck -- the roads on a map appear like a Route 5 hourglass: wide on the top (north of Woodyard Road) and bottom (south at Hughesville), while choking traffic at mid-commute.
Is it too much to ask our elected leaders and transportation engineers to use good common sense in making a realistic effort to complete necessary Route 5 and U.S. 301 improvements so Southern Maryland commuters can one day (hopefully in our lifetime) have a more efficient and safer drive into and away from the Capital Beltway.