Maryland’s new and improved paper voting system is finally here, ready to be used for the first time in our 2016 elections. We have a chance with this new system to encourage democracy! Voting is our most powerful tool to have a voice in our democracy – so it is critical that we put forth the effort to informing citizens about how the voting process has changed and what to expect on Election Day. Voter education will strengthen our voices as citizens and encourage more people to vote.
Voters must be informed about what to expect on Election Day. Because of the new paper balloting system, there is no risk of votes being miscounted or voters unheard, because our votes are now verifiable through a paper record. But using the new system could create challenges for voters who are caught unprepared.
Currently, the state of Maryland has not implemented any major means of informing voters about the new voting system. Without proper education, we could see citizens of any age on Election Day feeling frustrated or concerned that their vote was not recorded. The potential for long lines after a nine to five work day are already discouraging. Any amount of confusion from even one voter could create a snowball effect. If 500 people in a day come to vote and each person takes just 30 seconds extra to figure out the system, it would add hours to the total wait time. And if voters are not confident using the machines during the primary, they will be less inclined to vote come November.
A sound democracy means every vote counts. This new system ensures our vote is protected and that our votes are counted. However, only an informed voter will know how to navigate the new system with ease. A question here and there from several voters is expected. However, a problem arises when a majority of voters are unsure about the new system they are using.
Public confidence in voting is key to a functioning democracy. Our political participation has the potential to influence the future of our democracy. We must not undermine the process that allows us to have a say in our communities.
The 2016 elections will chart a new future for Baltimore City, Cecil County, and our national government. In order to adequately prepare Maryland voters for the upcoming elections, voter education is a must. In any way we can, we should engage our voters with informative literature and aggressive education about the new system. The conversation has already started. What will Maryland do now for their voters?
Office: Common Cause Maryland
Issues: Voting and Elections