About 3 years ago I answered a call to become a new electoral judge for Anne Arundel County. A 3 hour class awaited me along with a few (2 hour) practice sessions learning how to use the voting books. Then I received “THE ELECTION JUDGE’S MANUAL”, AN 8″ X 11″ MANUAL 3/4″ THICK. The manual contained the necessary information to work as a judge in an election. To say I was floored at how much information I had to memorize was an understatement. I was so nervous about my first election until I realized the manual was a guide to election integrity. Everyone worked together to help voters and helped me guide voters through the voting process. When a problem arose, the first thing the Chief Justice did was produce The Election Judges Manual. (Yes, it is updated every election).
When we started the class, we were first told that there should be NO discussions about the elections. Period. When we first started learning how to set up the machines, there was NEVER one person to “set up ballot books, scanning unit, ballot marking device, or any machine,” there were always at least two people, one Democrat and one Republican or Independent. AND we had to initialize every step of setting up the machine and ballots, reading security labels on the locked machines, or actually setting up almost anything. There were always two pairs of eyes on every step of the process. This was the “Standard Operating Procedure”.
In my first election, I was blown away by how everyone helped and did everything they could to help voters and each other. Just so you know we were asked and showed up at 4:30pm the day before the election and we finished everything we could do (machines WERE NOT SET UP) but tables, chairs, taped floors and general set up was around 9pm done When we left the chief justice said see you all yes 5.30am Tuesday morning yes that was morning AND we finished 9pm Tuesday (15 1/2 hours) we were busy and that The day went relatively smoothly.
As I finished the last pick, I found out how important training was when one of the machines started having a problem. The chief judge walked over, made sure there were more than two people present, opened the “election judge’s handbook”, turned to the section on operating the machine and after a little cajoling got it running. Another thing I might mention. When Larry was asked how secure the elections are, I was blown away by his response: “AFTER 246 YEARS, WE FEEL WE HAVE COVERED THE BASE,” just so you know the board has a discussion after every election about what we do can do to improve anything the next election.
William Gumula, Annapolis
This is an embarrassing situation for Anne Arundel County’s pending votes. I have yet to hear a plausible reason for the delay in completion. The longer the result of an election is delayed, the more the public doubts the system’s competence. And one would think that after an election, the matter would be analyzed and corrections made to ensure it didn’t happen again.
Elaine Phillips, Millersville
Ten days after the elections, we still didn’t know the results. I’m not talking about recounts in close races. I’m talking about our inability to count votes cast weeks before Election Day. Postal voting is the main reason for this dilemma. This is an entirely new phenomenon and one that raises suspicions of evil, and that is intolerable in a democracy – a slow poison. Trust in American institutions has been declining for years, and the pandemic has only made matters worse. Postal votes have exploded and the resulting delays have caused dismay and suspicion. It’s time to go back to voting in person with a voter card, just like in any other first world country.
Peter Tutini, Annapolis
I live in Martins Cove, which borders the USNA golf course that flows into Mill Creek. I’ve been a regular user of Greenbury Point for the past 25 years. This treasure served as a recreation spot for thousands of Anne Arundel citizens as well as USNA folks.
The capital has written about competing interests for this green space, but there’s very little news as to what’s really going to happen to this land — the construction of an additional 18-hole restricted golf course or the preservation of this 240-acre land bordering both the Chesapeake Bay and Chesapeake Bay, the mouth of the Severn River is an “open and publicly accessible area”.
I’m very frustrated with what has happened lately with clear attempts to intimidate users of the area. A chain link fence was erected around the perimeter and new gates and padlocks were erected and public access was severely restricted.
To add insult to injury, on a beautiful fall day I took my bike to do a lap around the GP, which I’ve been doing for years, and it was all locked up.
In recent months, the Chesapeake Conservancy has joined forces with the Severn River Association and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to oppose this ill-conceived proposal. Recently, 25 nonprofit organizations signed a joint letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro in opposition, and the two US Maryland senators and two representatives also wrote a letter expressing their concern. There is still scope for concerned citizens to take strategic steps to “fight” these outrageous sanctions.
I think it’s time to reopen the GP to the public. ARE WE NOT THE OWNERS OF THIS GREEN AREA VIA OUR TAX BASE and the public stewards of the Navy of this treasure?
Kenneth Green, Annapolis
While the decision to adopt a child is one of the most joyful and rewarding a family can make, it can also be one of the most expensive. For most domestic infant adoptions or international adoptions, the cost typically ranges from $10,000 to $40,000. Foster adoption is more affordable upfront, but children who are adopted into foster care often have significant special needs that often require additional expenses — such as: The Adoption Tax Credit, currently about $14,440, goes a long way to helping parents who want to be a family to children who can’t stay with their birth parents.
In our family, the adoption tax credit has been life changing for our children because without the credit we would not have been able to adopt (because… provide your own story or personal details as to why this credit is important to you!)
Since 1997, the Adoption Tax Credit has helped thousands of American families provide loving, lasting families to children through adoption. Although the adoption tax credit was made a permanent part of the tax code in 2012, it was made non-refundable. As a result, it doesn’t help low- and middle-income families — the families who most need support to make an adoption a reality.
If many American families cannot afford the high cost of adoption, the children waiting will suffer — the more than 125,000 children currently available for adoption from US foster families, and the orphaned and abandoned children worldwide. Congress has an opportunity to enhance the life-changing assistance the adoption tax credit provides by ensuring it reaches the families who need it most.
Please join me and other advocates of adoption. Use your voice to create change for children. Contact your senators and congressional representatives and ask them to sponsor HR 3031 or p. 1156 to help children find families by refunding the adoption tax credit.
Binoj Philip, Odenton