August 6, 2020
We are all pretty tired of the social distancing and isolation required by this Coronavirus pandemic. BUT… with no available vaccine in sight (though companies in my district are frantically working on it!), we all must continue to follow guidelines in order to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. As a reminder, Montgomery County remains in Stage Two of reopening restrictions.
Taking a Sharp RIGHT Turn
Republican Governor Hogan has often steered a fairly moderate course. But, lately he seems more responsive to the base of his party as he promotes his new book and explores a run for President.
First, Hogan issued a surprising and irresponsible mandate, revoking local authority to manage local schools. His decision disrespected our health experts and duly elected elected officials, whose plans are in the best interests of the community. Hogan’s position sounded very much like the messages from the current White House. It makes no sense to have different rules for our public and private school students when it comes to public health.
As our 24 local Boards of Elections are scrambling to accommodate Gov. Hogan’s unrealistic elections requirements, his demands on the State Board of Elections are simply impractical. Local staffers are struggling to find sufficient voting locations as we face a shortage of more than 14,000 election judges. The old adage “haste makes waste” means something! Time is of the essence, but it’s more important that things go smoothly in November.
SPOTLIGHT: Changes on the Election Horizon?
As I hope you know, I’ve been one of the key legislative leaders on elections. Yesterday brought several exciting developments! First, I think transparency is imperative, especially during this pandemic. I’ve passed laws with Del. Marc Korman requiring the State Board of Elections (SBE) and other government agencies to provide greater transparency. For months, SBE has disregarded the law, so I filed a formal complaint with the Open Meetings Compliance Board. Yesterday, the SBE FINALLY complied with the law and live video-streamed its meeting!
Even more important, the SBE debated a new idea– using our 282 public high schools as polling centers! This is potentially a reasonable compromise between Governor Hogan’s ill-advised plan to open all in-person voting sites and the concept of mailing every voter a ballot. I’m hopeful that there will be bipartisan consensus for protecting the health of voters and poll workers; saving taxpayer dollars; and increasing voter access. You can watch the emergency SBE meeting Friday at 2pm.
In the meantime, you can request your mail-in ballot online. Speaker Adrienne Jones shared a video to help navigate the needlessly complicated process on the SBE’s website. (Hoping for improvements there soon!!)
Participating in our Democracy
In memory of Congressman John Lewis, whose principled leadership and lifetime of public service are nearly unmatched in American history, might you consider becoming an election judge?
In the June Primary, I was impressed by the attention to safety at our polling sites. The amount of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, & hand sanitizer) available to poll workers and voters was encouraging. This is a paid opportunity to be part of history. If you are healthy, able, and interested, please considerregistering.
Celebrating Women Voting!
Did you know that 2020 is the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution– granting women the right to vote? I’ve served three years on the statewide Centennial Commission and want to be sure you were aware of the upcoming events!
On Wednesday, August 26th (also known as Women’s Equality Day), the Maryland Commission for Women will be hosting a Virtual Summit, showcasing many distinguished Maryland women from different careers and backgrounds. I encourage you to take part in this event and other commemorative celebrations this month!
Interesting fact: Did you know that the State of Maryland waited to ratify the 19th Amendment until 1941 and did not certify that vote until 1958? Click here to learn more.
Cheryl C. Kagan
State Senator, District 17
(Gaithersburg & Rockville)