February 7, 2020
As you may have heard, I spent last weekend in Iowa for the historic presidential caucus. I was delighted to attend five different Democratic candidates’ rallies and feel the energy among the voters. What I didn’t expect was the unfortunate disaster that resulted from their reliance on new election technology.
Spotlight: Challenging (& Defeating!) the Flawed
State Board of Elections Proposal
The troubles that arose in Iowa, coupled with Maryland’s Special Election debacle, heightened my longstanding concerns about the State Board of Elections’s (SBE) irresponsible plan. They attempted to force Maryland’s six largest jurisdictions to use wireless routers at every precinct on Election Day. The decision to implement this system– initially at the counties’ expense– was made without being publicly reviewed or debated by SBE Board members or the Board of Public Works. On Tuesday, there were significant challenges that ultimately forced elections officials to disconnect the wireless routers. If the technology couldn’t handle a paltry 60,000 voters during a Special Election, we can only imagine the disasters that could occur in April’s primary, when we expect more than 1.4 million Marylanders to head to the polls.
On Thursday, I testified on my emergency bill (SB362), which would serve to eliminate the need for the potentially vulnerable wireless system on Election Day. I was astonished that the SBE chose not to testify at the hearing, but I was relieved that they decided to abandon their flawed plan before the critically important presidential election later this year.
Reporting on the State of the State
Governor Hogan began his 6th annual State of the State address by acknowledging Speaker Adrienne Jones, who is not only the first woman but the first African-American to lead that chamber. His address was nothing like President Trump’s vindictive, partisan, inaccurate, and exploitative State of the Union. The Governor spoke about working across the aisle to reduce violent crime and increase government transparency. I hope that his actions match his words.
This week, the Senate Finance committee heard two more of my consumer protection bills. On Tuesday, I testified on SB160, which would require banks to provide at least two security questions, neither of which can ask for one’s mother’s maiden name. This security question has been used since 1882 and is no longer secure in today’s Internet age. Prohibiting the use of this archaic security question to protect people’s life savings is just common sense. On Thursday, I testified for my “Gas Price Gouging” bill (SB220), which requires gas stations to display either the highest (credit card) price or both the cash and credit prices.
Thursday marked our 30th day, meaning that we are officially one-third of the way through our 90-day session. I have already had 12 bill hearings ranging from elections and consumer protection to our 9-1-1 systems. This week, five of my bills were heard; next week, six more are scheduled. I will keep you updated as my staff and I continue our work on your behalf.
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Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)