Marc Elrich Can’t Read, Or Maybe He’s Just a Liar
By Alexander A. Bush, Chairman, MCGOP
Last Friday, many of our elected officials in Montgomery County held a press conference to defame our Board of Elections for doing the right thing: voting against creating an unnecessary twelfth early voting (EV) site in White Oak.
Councilman Hucker took the podium and condemned the Board for ignoring the wishes of the County Council. Of course, he got his facts wrong, but that’s not surprising since he hadn’t cared enough to attend the public meeting where the Board made their decision. In fact, only seven members of the Council had asked for the proposed new White Oak EV site; Councilmembers Andrew Friedson and Craig Rice did not support it. This is probably because they represent the north and west 2/5ths of the county.
Then County Executive Mark Elrich took the podium, saying, “When this is all over, I want to sit down with the Board and give them all reading lessons in how to read a letter. I was very clear that I wanted to open up this site.”
That’s funny, Marc, because I’m reading your letter, where you stated that you supported “adding a[n unspecified] 12th early voting site for the general election,” but not for the primary election. His letter went on, “I have concerns about the cost and additional benefit of implementing another early voting site for the primary election in this fiscal year … If the presidential nominations are already determined by the time of our primary, turnout might be very low for the whole primary.”
But when his allies decided to make an issue of this, Mr. Elrich’s fiscal concern disappeared as fast as his ability to read his own words.
Next up was Councilman Will Jawando, who condemned the Board’s vote as “disenfranchisement” and “voter suppression”. But did he accuse Mr. Elrich of being a vote suppressor for being unwilling to fund the EV site for the primary election. No, of course not. The truth was forgotten in a fit of political expediency. And what about Councilmembers Friedson and Rice. Surely they were called out for joining the forces of disenfranchisement for not supporting the White Oak EV site, right? No, again, for Democrats are not allowed to be villains in this little drama.
But are there any villains here at all? Let’s dig a little deeper.
At the Board of Elections meeting, one of the Democrat members recommended approving a twelfth early voting site for both the primary and the general election, even though he knew Mr. Elrich was refusing to fund it. I don’t know if there is a better example of fiscal irresponsibility than the threat that if your Board doesn’t get the funding you want, you will just spend yourself into bankruptcy. The fiscal concerns expressed by the wiser members of the Board are based in reality. The State is mandating expensive new software and equipment for the next election, which will cost at least $345,000.00. The Board has also spent heavily on new voting machines to alleviate long lines. With this in mind, it’s fair to ask why we need to spend an additional $117,000.00 for a twelfth EV site.
Democrats’ arguments that an EV site in White Oak is needed to ease wait times across other sites just doesn’t hold up.
Yes, there were long lines at some polling places in the last election, but there is a great deal that the Board of Elections is doing to reduce those wait times. The Board has already invested heavily in new machines, so that more machines and staff can go to the sites where they are needed. Additionally, the Board can have better voter education about not waiting until the last day or two during early voting. I doubt Mr. Elrich spent half as much time as I did at the Silver Spring EV site during the 2018 election. It wasn’t a lack of space causing long lines at Silver Spring on the days when I was there, it was the lack of machines and election judges.
Democrats’ argument that voters in the White Oak area can’t get to an early voting center doesn’t hold up either. There is a direct bus route from White Oak to the downtown Silver Spring EV site that runs all week, and (with one connection) the same goes for the Wheaton EV site. All told, there are four EV sites within less than 4.5 miles of the proposed White Oak EV site already.
And if White Oak is so inaccessible by public transportation (as Democrats insist), then how will putting an EV site there help anyone who doesn't live within walking distance to it? And why add a twelfth EV site to solve this imagined problem for no more than 0.015% of the County?
If Democrats really wanted all county residents to have a convenient location for early voting, then they would have to admit that there are places that need it far more. None of these Democrats have said one word about how voters living between Damascus and Sandy Spring are more than 6.5 miles from an EV site and that the one bus line through the area barely provides service for more than weekday rush hour. But that’s nothing compared to the difficulties of voters who live in the north-western part of the county, up to 12 miles from an EV site, and who certainly cannot rely on public transportation.
Let’s ask ourselves for a moment what would have happened if the Board had voted to put a twelfth EV site in Poolesville. Would the Democrats have praised this as providing convenient access to the polls to a community with almost no public transportation? Of course not. They would say it was a partisan plot to facilitate more Republican votes, and the fact that more people might be able to vote suddenly wouldn’t be a good thing. Tell me I’m wrong.