While the General Assembly session this year will likely see a dramatic battle over redistricting, Del. Bob Long (R-6) announced this week he is also pushing to get voter ID measures onto the ballot this coming session.
A package which Long, who is a member of the House of Delegates’ election law subcommittee, plans to introduce would put on the 2022 ballot a measure asking Marylanders whether or not to change the state’s constitution and require voters to present identification in order to cast their ballots in following elections.
Republicans in the General Assembly have introduced voter ID measures throughout the years, but those bills have mostly failed as Democrats, who have a supermajority in both chambers, oppose most voter ID measures, noting that the measures tend to lower voter turnout among historically disenfranchised voters who often do not have access to identification.
If put on the ballot and approved by Maryland voters, Long’s bill would allow those without government-issued photo ID to either provide non-government ID along with a utility or bank statement, a paycheck or other governmental document with the voter’s address. If they cannot show any documentation, they would fill out a provisional ballot, Long said.
“People need to have confidence when they vote, that their vote counts,” Long said. “That’s our right.”
He said he believes putting the voter ID to a referendum of voters will make a difference.
“I don’t know why they would want to keep this out of the hands of the voters,” he said.
Long is introducing that ballot initiative alongside another bill, which, if passed, would require signature verification on all mail-in ballots. That would mean elections officials would compare signatures on mail-in ballots to the voter’s signature on their registration.
“There is software out there that they can take, and verify those signatures,” Long said.
The mail-in ballots would also have to be signed by an adult witness, but military personnel would be exempt from the signature process.
The General Assembly’s regular session will begin on January 12, 2022. A special session to vote on redistricting maps will begin on Dec. 6, 2021.
Long, who opposes the state legislature’s proposed redistricting maps which heavily favor Democrats, said along with the voter ID push, redistricting will remain a major priority for him as well as trying to fix issues with the Back River Wastewater Treatment plant.
“We’re actually putting legislation in to remove Baltimore City from the operation” of the wastewater treatment plant, and hand it over to the Maryland Environmental Service, he said.