St. Mary’s County commissioners have written an opposition letter to Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery), chairperson of Maryland House Ways and Means Committee, to oppose House Bill 745 Election Law — Early Voting Centers. The commissioners stated, “ We oppose the introduction of this legislation and do not believe this legislation would benefit the citizens of St. Mary’s County.”

HB 745 would increase the required number of early voting centers in St. Mary’s County from one to two. Thirty-six percent of county voters who voted in the 2020 General Election chose to vote early. Clearly, early voting is a popular method of voting in the county, and a second early voting center in the southern half of the county is needed to serve the large population and employment center in the Lexington Park/Great Mills area.

A second center would be more accessible to historically disenfranchised communities and it would be more accessible by public transportation for those voters in the 4th Commissioner District, which has the densest concentration of voters in St. Mary’s County. Additionally, since county voters can vote at any county early voting center regardless of their assigned polling place, a second center in the southern hub would provide convenient voter access for those who work for the county’s largest employer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Why would our commissioners oppose HB 745 and say that it would not benefit our citizens? Shouldn’t a democratic government strive to increase voter access through additional early voting centers? Don’t our commissioners have an interest in supporting election legislation that would benefit our citizens?

We do wish to thank the Maryland House and Senate members because they have voted to improve statewide voter access, and for us that would mean a second early voting center. As of March 30, HB 745 is on its way to the governor for signage into law.

That just leaves us with the question of why our St. Mary’s commissioners were the only direct county legislators of 24 Maryland counties to oppose the legislation and say it would not benefit our citizens. We all know a democratic government strives to increase voter access, which the second early voting center will provide to the benefit of the citizens of St. Mary’s County.

Alexis Schaefer, Mechanicsville

This letter was written on behalf of the group I Am St. Mary’s, Democratic Women of St. Mary’s County.