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7 questions cleared up for Garrett ballot

Director says there could be more added

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Steven Fratz, director of the Garrett County Board of Elections, provided the county commissioners with an update on a list of seven questions that will be on November’s general election ballot and encouraged voters to review the questions ahead of time.

“It’s going to be a very long ballot; it might be 18 inches both sides,” said Fratz during the commission meeting on Tuesday. “It may be even bigger than that because there’s seven questions. Several of the questions are lengthy and, with that many questions, it could delay voting.”

Fratz said there may be more questions added and that everyone will receive a specimen ballot with a summary of the questions.

The specimen ballot will be mailed 10 days before early voting begins on Oct. 27.

“We are going to go above and beyond to get (the specimen ballot) out there so we don’t have delays on Election Day,” said Fratz. “Read those summaries so that you don’t have to read the whole question going into the election.”

Chairman Jim Raley said that he had noticed an intense media campaign for question No. 7, which deals with a proposed casino in Prince George’s County.

“There has been a heavy lobbying effort because of the jobs created and all those kinds of things,” said Raley, noting that there also has been heavy lobbying efforts against No. 7. “It’s become probably one of the most publicized of the questions right now even though we know there are numerous other questions on there that were a result of some Western Maryland challenges.”

No. 7 started out as a question regarding only table games and then the state adopted the Prince George’s casino referendum onto that, said Fratz.

Questions No. 1 and 2 deal with orphan court judges who want to be lawyers in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties, according to Fratz.

Question No. 3 deals with when an elected official should be suspended or removed from office.

Question No. 4 involves in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and No. 5 is about the Congressional redistricting plan, according to Fratz.

Question No. 6 deals with the Civil Marriage Protection Act.

“I think the people of Garrett County will be interested in that,” said Fratz.

Fratz said the new online voter registration systems, which was introduced by the state elections board several weeks ago, has received positive reviews so far.

“Everything can be done online to register to vote,” said Fratz. “It’s connected live with the MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration) so they (applicants) don’t have to sign the registration as long as their information is exactly the same as it is on their driver’s license.”

The Board of Elections processed 456 registration applications for the month of August, according to Fratz.

“Which is quadruple what we normally would do,” said Fratz.

The number of active voters in Garrett County is at 18,343, an all-time high, according to Fratz.

“That will climb probably a couple hundred extra before we hit the general election,” said Fratz.

Also at record high is the number of unaffiliated voters (2,000), according to Fratz.

Registration for voting closes Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. Early voting starts Oct. 27 and ends Nov. 1 and can be completed at the Oakland Community Center or the old armory.

The ballot includes four local candidates — two incumbents and two challengers — for at-large spots on the Board of Education, according to Fratz. 

For more information on voting, view the website at http://www.co.garrett.md.us/Elections/Elections.aspx.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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