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Most Maryland voters not required to verify identification at the polls

November 03, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY - When Maryland voters go to the polls Tuesday, they will be asked to verify their names and dates of birth before being allowed to vote.

In most cases, their word will be enough.

Maryland does not require most voters to show identification on Election Day.

The policy has drawn complaints from some people, including a local state legislator, who say it leaves the state open to voter fraud.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, has introduced bills in the state legislature for the past two years trying to require identification at the polls.

"You have to show ID to get on a plane, to get a library card. You should have to show ID to vote," Myers said.

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Others argue that claims about fraud are overblown and that ID requirements would disenfranchise poor and elderly voters.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has opposed Myers' bills.

The group argues that voter fraud has not been a demonstrated problem in Maryland and that identification requirements would affect poor and elderly voters who do not have ID cards.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," said David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland.

When Marylanders register to vote, they are asked to provide a Maryland driver's license number or Motor Vehicle Administration ID number.

If voters do not have either form of identification, they are asked to list the last four digits of their Social Security number.

That information is verified by local boards of election before Election Day.

If it cannot be verified, voters must cast provisional ballots, Washington County Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel said.

Voters who registered by mail after Jan. 1, 2003, and are voting for the first time will be asked for identification at the polls on Tuesday, according to the state board of elections.

A valid photo ID or bill, bank statement or government-issued document may be used.

If voters do not have those documents on hand, they can provide a driver's license number or MVA-issued ID number, which election officials will attempt to verify.

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