I moved to Baltimore from Fairfax County, Virginia 13 months ago, and I am essentially happy I made the move to my husband's hometown. However, as a voter I feel like I landed in a third world country.
I am a city homeowner who pays hefty real estate taxes, but I have no voice in the upcoming election for mayor. When I registered to vote, I was forced to register as either a Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated voter. As a registered Republican, the law prohibits my voting in the Democratic primary. I can, however, vote if I change my party affiliation to Democrat. As The Sun has previously indicated, voters will effectively have no choice in the general election because it will boil down to one candidate for mayor, the one chosen in the Democratic primary. I refuse to play this insane game.
In Virginia, I freely voted for any candidate in the primary and general elections regardless of party affiliation. I never had a problem providing my driver's license to verify my identity and preserve the integrity of my vote. No one in the voting precinct knew or cared if I was a Democrat or Republican. Not in Maryland. Why aren't Marylanders upset about this? As a new resident, I am.
As a citizen, I am entitled to vote. Whether I vote for a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green Party, or any other party candidate should be my choice, not Maryland's. Isn't that what the U.S. Constitution provides? As a woman, I have legal protection over the choices I make with my body, but not my vote in this state.
Finally, I am a legal immigrant who became a U.S. citizen 44 years ago, and one of my cherished constitutional rights is my right to vote. As a military wife, I have freely exercised this right from various corners of the world and the United States — until now.
This city and state need to clean up the voting procedures because thousands if not millions of citizens are disenfranchised. Shame on Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
Leye Jeannette Chrzanowski, BaltimoreCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun