At the bottom of their ballots, Maryland voters will be asked to decide on two constitutional amendments, one regarding education funding, the other regarding same-day voter registration. On these issues, the Times is in favor of the former and against the latter question.
On Question 1, we are for the constitutional amendment “Requiring Commercial Gaming Revenues that are for Public Education to Supplement Spending for Education in Public Schools.” Quite simply, this is what many Maryland voters thought they were supporting when they approved slot machines a decade ago and table games in 2012 and were told that a majority of the money created through casino gaming would fund education. But that isn’t exactly what happened.
Instead, politicians played a shell game with education money. Rather than increase the amount of money going toward education accordingly, Maryland created the Education Trust Fund in 2009, which has collected an estimated $1.9 billion since. General fund revenue that had been used for schools prior to 2009 was used to fund other projects as casino tax revenues increased, according to the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and the Maryland State Education Association.
Voting in favor of Question 1 would incrementally dedicate money from casino gaming to education through 2023, to the tune of $125 million in fiscal year 2020, $250 million in FY21, $375 million in FY22, and 100 percent of all casino revenues collected by the state in 2023 and beyond — projected to be more than $500 million each year. The funding would be considered supplemental, and therefore casino revenues would not be counted in the minimum education spending formulas, meaning it would have to be spent on education in additional to the minimum amount required.
Quite simply, we think voters were sold a bill of goods in order to get casino gaming passed more than a decade ago, and it’s high time that money be used in the way in which it was intended. Certainly, those who have been following the budget shortfalls of the Carroll County Public School system recognize the need for additional funding from the state.
Regarding Question 2, we are against the constitutional amendment that would allow “Same-Day Registration and Voting at the Precinct Polling Place on Election Day.”
While we do not believe voting fraud is as rampant as some might have you believe, it certainly is an issue, and allowing people to register to vote on Election Day could create more headaches than it is worth during what is already a chaotic day for election judges. Not only that, same-day registration could cause already long lines at polling places to become even longer, so while you open up opportunities for more people to vote, others who have taken the time to get registered in the months leading up to an election may be frustrated with longer waits to cast ballots.
Right now, there are plenty of opportunities to register to vote, including the same day at an early voting center, which begins the second Thursday before a primary or general election and continues for eight days. We view same-day Election Day registration a bit differently. During the early voting period — despite this year’s increased turnout — the pace is a bit slower and there is less opportunity for confusion.
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But even beyond that, it’s never been easier to register to vote. Citizens can use the online voter registration system from anywhere, submit an application by mail, or fill out and submit an application at a number of state offices, including the Motor Vehicle Administration and all public institutions of higher education.