- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

Maryland state Delegate Joseph R. Bartlett says he will ask the Frederick County Board of Elections to change its records to show that he voted in the 2000 presidential primary even though he can’t remember having done so.

Mr. Bartlett, Frederick Republican, said he is following the lead of state Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Frederick Republican who persuaded the board last month to alter his voting history to fill a similar gap revealed by the Frederick News-Post.

“I’m going to do the same thing Alex did,” Mr. Bartlett told the newspaper Wednesday.

Like Mr. Mooney, Mr. Bartlett said he hasn’t missed voting in an election since he first registered to vote.

But unlike his colleague, Mr. Bartlett said he can’t remember voting in that particular election. He said he is sure he did though, because his wife “specifically remembers voting in that primary.”

The gaps in both men’s records were revealed by the News-Post’s Aug. 10 report on its investigation into the voting histories of all local elected officials. In Mr. Mooney’s case, the newspaper reported there was no record of his having voted in the 2000 presidential general election.

Mr. Mooney insisted he voted. After reviewing his written complaint and the statements of staff members, the Board of Elections agreed on Aug. 25 to change Mr. Mooney’s voting history, said Stuart Harvey, the local elections supervisor.

Mr. Harvey said that because none of the election judges refuted the senator’s claim, the board assumed there had been an error, such as a judge failing to check Mr. Mooney’s name off a list when he voted.

Mr. Bartlett said the board should perhaps consider changing its procedures to keep better track of personal voting histories.

Alan Imhoff, who served as chief election judge at one of Frederick’s polling places for 16 years, said such an error could reflect a failure by the voter to sign on the correct line, or a failure by a poll official to record that a person had voted, or a software problem in the county’s master database of voter records.

Mr. Imhoff said public officials are especially sensitive to perceptions that they didn’t vote.

As a politician, “you want to be able to say you voted in every election since you were 18 years old or knee-high to a grasshopper,” Mr. Imhoff said.

• First in Trappe

Walter Chase is the first black to be elected to the Trappe (Md.) Town Council.

Mr. Chase won a special election last week, receiving 105 of the 196 votes cast. He defeated Donald English, a Trappe Planning Commission member, and Kirby Sabin.

The special election was held to fill the vacancy left by Robert Niemeyer, who announced his resignation in July.

Mr. Chase, a former Easton police chief, ran for an opening on the Town Council in 2003.

Born and raised in Trappe, he was active on the Maryland Police Training Commission for more than 20 years and is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Central Committee.

• Child care

Virginia supporters of stricter child care regulations — which received a chilly reception from a joint legislative commission last week — hope for a warmer greeting from Gov. Mark Warner.

Members of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission criticized a study from their own staff that appeared to support the case for new child care rules in Virginia, which has lagged behind many states in regulating the industry.

Delegate H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican, and other legislators warned that the regulations could lead to higher costs for centers and parents, pricing out low-income families. “I think we’re doing a disservice to the working poor,” Mr. Griffith said.

The proposed regulations were approved by the state Child Day-Care Council in May and are now before the governor. Mr. Warner has supported some regulatory changes to the industry, primarily on staffing and quality of care issues, Kevin Hall, a spokesman for the Democratic governor, said.

If Mr. Warner signs them, the rules could go into effect as early as January, though two of the most controversial regulations involving staffing and space requirements give current providers a long lag time before they fall under compliance.

Under the new rules, smaller children-to-staff ratios would be required for some age groups.

Virginia is one of three states that require the least amount of indoor space per child — 25 square feet, though supporters say research shows more space improves social development.

The space requirement would be increased to 35 square feet — matching the minimum mandated by 43 other states. Current providers in Virginia would have nine years to comply with the new rule.

• Nader still fighting

Ralph Nader will take his fight to get on the Maryland presidential ballot to the state Court of Appeals today.

State election officials invalidated hundreds of signatures on the petitions needed to put Mr. Nader on the ballot. After the signatures were rejected, the Nader campaign was left more than 500 short of the 10,000 needed. Last week, a Circuit Court judge in Anne Arundel County sided with the state’s decision.

According to Mr. Nader’s campaign Web site, he has qualified for the ballot in 25 states and is involved in court challenges in 17 states.

• Bowing out

Ocean City Town Council President Rick Meehan announced Wednesday that he will not run for mayor and will instead seek another term on the council.

Some supporters wanted him to run for mayor, he said, but others advised him to remain where he has authority over council agendas, unlike the mayor. He has served on the council since 1985, longer than any other current member.

His decision leaves two declared candidates in the race — incumbent Jim Mathias and council member Vince Gisriel.

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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