New law enhances voter protections in municipal elections

The state prosecutor will soon have the power to investigate and prosecute voting rights violations in all municipalities.

The state prosecutor currently has no jurisdiction over such violations in municipalities unless local charters or town codes allow it. The state prosecutor’s office can only look into potential violations statewide, in county elections and in Baltimore City.

Examples of violations include impersonation, double voting, intimidation, bribery and fraud.

In 2012, an issue arose in Worcester County when absentee ballots were allegedly disseminated with a municipal candidate’s campaign literature, according to a release from the Maryland Attorney General.

The state prosecutor notified the local state’s attorney that his office did not have jurisdiction to investigate the matter.

In the most recent session, the Maryland General Assembly unanimously passed a voter protection law in both the House and Senate to remedy the discrepancy.

"Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and it's critical to have a mechanism in place at all levels to investigate and prosecute voting rights violations," Maryland Attorney General Gansler said in a release. "Voters deserve a legitimate election every time they go to the polls. There's no reason voters in Maryland should have the same protections provided in many other states."

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