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Originally published November 06, 2012

Maryland Voters Focus on State Ballot Referendums

by Karissa Braxton and Catori Langley
Howard University News Service

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SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As Marylanders cast their votes Tuesday, a number of hotly-debated ballot measures are actually overshadowing the presidential race.

When it comes to the presidential election, the Maryland has become very predictable. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama beat Republican senator John McCain 62 percent to 37 percent earning Maryland’s ten electoral votes in 2008. Democratic presidential candidates have carried Maryland in seven of the last 10 elections. The last Republican to win the state was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Votes on Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, gay marriage and gambling expansion promise to be less predictable.

The ballot measure Question 7 would increase the number of video lottery licenses and the number of video lottery terminals from 15,000 to 16,500. The parties that battled over gambling expansion have spent $80 million on Question 7, littered green lawns near Maryland polling stations with brightly-colored posters like oversized casino chips on a poker table. 

Proponents inundated voters with messages over the radio waves, on television and the internet. Local celebrities, including former Washington Redskins player Lavar Arrington and politicians like Prince George’s County chief executive Rushern Baker, have touted the gambling referendum’s ability to create jobs and increase state revenue.

Although long-time Maryland resident Carol Bady is not a gambler, she voted yes to Question 7.

“I felt it would bring more money to Prince George’s,” said Bady, who took advantage of early voting in Upper Marlboro at a local recreation center. “Why should we give our money to West Virginia or Pennsylvania?”

State Rep. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Md.) called raising revenue through casinos “a low road to economic development” during a recent television interview. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot told Reuters news service that he doubted expansion would generate the predicted revenue.

Supporters of same-sex marriage are hopeful that Marylanders would break their losing streak and vote “yes” on Question 6, which allows gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license. The measure would protect churches from performing the marriages if it is against their beliefs. Voters in over 40 states have blocked similar marriage equality initiatives.

Susan Henderson, 47, planned to vote no on Question 6 in Temple Hills.
Henderson, an administrative assistant who works in Dupont Circle, said that gays should have their rights, but that they should leave marriage alone.

Lindsay Conn, 45, voted no on gambling, but she said she supports gay marriage.
“Everyone has the right to formalize their love in a way our society acknowledges,” a marketing director for a Washington doctors group.

Queston 4, Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, would allow some undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland community colleges.

Reemberto Rodríguez, 55, said he will vote “yes” on Question 4.

Rodríguez added that he’s proud that President Obama is at the forefront of the Dream Act.

"What [Obama] is doing for the Latino community is substantial,” Rodríguez said. “We are definitely proud of him. He captures the essence of what America is, was, and can be."

Karissa Braxton reported from Silver Spring, Md. and Catori Langley reported from Temple Hills, Md.



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