Yesterday afternoon, the Montgomery County Board of Elections voted 3-2 along party lines to select five early voting sites recommended by the county's Democratic Central Committee.
The sites selected were:
- Bauer Community Recreation Center, Rockville
- Germantown Recreation Center (substitute for Blackrock, which declined use)
- Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center, Burtonsville
- County Executive Office Building, Rockville
- Silver Spring Civic Building
Three alternate sites were designated at:
- Long Branch Recreation Center, Silver Spring
- Mid-County Community Center, Silver Spring
- Upper County Community Center, Gaithersburg
Robert Dyer, a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, released the following statement in response to the highly partisan Board decision:
"The sites selected by the Democratic majority on the Board of Elections constitute a blatant attempt to suppress early voter turnout in Damascus and Poolesville. Neither town has convenient access to an early voting site.
Furthermore, the three Democrats on the Board selected a site - the County Executive Office Building - that is not easily accessible to disabled voters over the Damascus Recreation Center, which has convenient access for the disabled.
The Executive Office Building also lacks convenient parking in general, again in contrast to the Damascus site, which has ample parking.
The Democrats also selected a facility that has not even been constructed yet - the Silver Spring Civic Building - over the established Damascus Recreation Center. Board staff warned the Board members that the Silver Spring facility will not likely be ready in time for the September 2010 primary.
Board President Jerrold Garson dismissed the need for early voting in Damascus, stating that "only 13,000 voters" would be excluded.
I could not disagree more with Mr. Garson's statement. To discriminate against, or discourage, 13,000 voters or just one voter is completely unacceptable.
The Board's decision was strictly partisan. All three Democrats on the Board simply approved the five sites recommended by the county Democratic Central Committee and Democratic County Council members. Site recommendations I offered, and the official recommendations of our Republican Central Committee, were entirely ignored.
It is well known that our rural areas are underserved by mass transit. The Board knows this, and proceeded ahead with its partisan plan anyway.
Several Democrats touted the ability to vote on a Saturday, and on Labor Day. Damascus voters who do not drive will not have access to early voting on either day. The county eliminated weekend and holiday service on the Route 90 Ride-On bus in April 2009. Route 90 is the only bus serving the town. This discrimination is outrageous.
I believe voters in Damascus and Poolesville will hold the Democratic Party responsible for their lack of access to early voting in the 2010 elections."