See that line? That’s the first-day of early voting at Berlin in Worcester County, Maryland.
You can expect long lines at Maryland polling places for the Presidential Election on Tuesday. The reason: Ballot questions that voters know are important, so they take the time to read all the questions in the voting booth and make their decisions. The solution: Get familiar with the ballot questions before you go to vote. Do this on Sunday or Monday. Make your decisions and mark them on your sample ballot or just jot them down on a scrap of paper. Or print out this post and take it with you. Walk into the polling booth, vote, and you’re out in three minutes. But you’ll still have to stand in line, because most people won’t take a few minutes to prepare themselves in advance.
The following comments on four of the ballot questions represent the opinions of the blogger.
QUICK GUIDE TO THE FOUR MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS ON THE MARYLAND BALLOT
QUESTION 4, REFERENDUM: HIGHER EDUCATION, TUITION RATES.
Quick recommendation: QUESTION 4: VOTE FOR THE QUESTION.
Question 4 is the in-state tuition referendum, AKA the Dream Act referendum. Authorizes in-state and in-county tuition rates for all true residents of Maryland, including undocumented immigrants. It’s been passed by both houses of the General Assembly after considerable debate, and signed into law by the governor.
There’s only one reason to vote against in-state tuition: FEAR. Some people fear immigrants (or hate immigrants) and some fear that allowing an immigrant to go to college in Maryland might deprive a citizen of a college education.
Reasons to vote for in-state tuition: Having all residents well-educated and able to work productively makes Maryland more economically competitive and more affluent. A high general level of education reduces crime and improves the quality of life for everyone.
In-state tuition will cost the state almost nothing. Students taking advantage of this law are required to go first to community college. A small percentage will later transfer to public four-year colleges or universities to complete their education. Community college is the most low-cost entry to college education. Admission to Maryland community colleges is not competitive or limited. All qualified students are accepted. Therefore, allowing one student to attend a Maryland community college does not prevent anyone else from doing so. There is almost no marginal cost in adding another student to a class in a community college. See this analysis. The return on this tiny investment in terms of future economic growth in Maryland is . . . enormous!
If Maryland voters support the Dream Act, they will be leading the way for the other 49 states.
QUESTION 5, REFERENDUM, CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTING PLAN.
Quick recommendation: QUESTION 5: VOTE AGAINST THE QUESTION.
Question 5 is a referendum on the Congressional Redistricting map passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. You can see the map for the state and each of the eight districts here.
The state is required to redistrict every 10 years after the U.S. census. Maryland’s new district map creates eight Congressional Districts that are gerrymandered beyond belief. District boundaries zig-zag around counties and cross county lines in a crazy pattern with no logical order. Congressional districts are supposed to be compact and follow logical boundaries. A child with a crayon could create more compact and logical congressional districts.
A vote for question 5 would accept the gerrymandered map. A vote against question 5 would reject the gerrymandered map and send it back to the governor and General Assembly.
QUESTION 6: REFERENDUM: CIVIL MARRIAGE PROTECTION ACT. (Same-Sex Marriage Referendum)
Quick recommendation: QUESTION 6, VOTE FOR THE QUESTION.
Both houses of the General Assembly have passed, and the governor has signed, a law allowing same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license in Maryland.
Some voters have personal religious or moral convictions on this issue. Voters should follow their own conscience.
My personal opinion: Live and let live. Freedom and equality for all. Allowing same-sex couples to have a civil marriage in Maryland benefits the couples involved. It has no effect on marriage between a man and a woman. That’s just my opinion.
Some other states and D.C. allow same-sex marriage, but Maryland would be the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
QUESTION 7: GAMING EXPANSION REFERENDUM.
Quick recommendation: QUESTION 7, VOTE AGAINST THE QUESTION.
Question 7 allows the addition of a sixth gambling casino in Maryland, to be located in Prince George’s County. It increases the number of slot machines (video lottery terminals) authorized in the state. It increases the share of casino profits retained by casino owners, and decreases the share of casino profits going to the Maryland state treasury.
And it allows “table games” as well as slot machines at all six casinos in Maryland.
How much gambling do you want in Maryland? How much is enough? How much is too much?
Supposedly, the addition of the sixth casino and addition of table games would increase net revenue collected by the state, even though casino owners would retain an increased percentage of the gross, and the state treasury would receive a smaller percentage of the gross. The state share of revenue from gambling is supposed to be used only for education. However, because of the state’s ability to transfer money among accounts, and the fungibility of money, many believe there is no guarantee that the money will be used for education. In addition, many believe that expanded gambling will not increase the total amount of money the state spends on education. They believe the money will be spent on other state expenses. Some call the assertion that gambling money will fund education a lie.
My personal opinion: Gambling expansion reflects the decline of the American “work ethic,” and the spread of a new “luck ethic.” Much of the gambling money goes straight to big gambling companies, which have sometimes in the past been known to have ties to organized crime. The money doesn’t go to small business.
Gambling money also can lead to corrupt government. Gambling interests have all the money they need to literally buy politicians and influence the outcome of elections.
Where does the money come from? It comes out of the pockets of poor people and working-class people and retired, elderly people. Those are the people who play slot machines. Rich people do not frequent gambling casinos. The rich are busy on the golf course, or horseback riding on their country estate, or sailing their yachts. State-sponsored gambling is, plain and simple, an unjust tax on the poor, the middle-class, and retired senior citizens, the very people who can least afford to lose their paychecks and savings.
For some people, gambling is a moral issue, or an issue of personal freedom. Personally, I think state-sponsored casino gambling breaks up marriages, ruins families, takes food out of the mouths of children. It also contributes to local crime and bankruptcies. What do you think?
Want more information. You can see The Washington Post recommendations on all the Maryland ballot questions here. Not all of the Post recommendations agree with mine.
– BERNIE “JOHN” HAYDEN
- What Same-Sex Marriage and Immigration Reform Ballot Questions Have in Common (bigthink.com)
- Expanded Gambling Ballot Question Proves To Be A Battle To The End (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- Teachers, students rally for Question 4 (wbaltv.com)
- Md. version of Dream Act up to popular vote (sfgate.com)