The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) sends out a sample ballot before the state elections to urge Democrats to the polls and remind them of their party’s ticket. There were some major snafus this year.
I’ve been receiving a lot of reports, some conflicting, of problems, and have been attempting to sift out fact from fiction. This is why I’ve delayed posting on this topic.
Mix and Match Candidates
In District 19, incumbent Sen. Roger Manno‘s name has been replaced by that of Sen. Rich Madaleno–the candidate in District 18. As you can imagine, Sen. Manno–who donated money to help pay for the sample ballot–was understandably not happy about it.
I suppose one could view this as karma, since Rich Madaleno’s name appeared as Roger Madaleno on the Apple Ballot during the Democratic primary. But at least the critical last name and first initial were right in that case. I hope Roger gets his donation back.
In District 16, Delegate Nominee Marc Korman‘s biography has been replaced with that of Aruna Miller. I am sure Marc was interested to learn that he worked for county since he was eight and has already served on a House committee before winning election.
Latino Outreach Fail
MCDCC has touted its efforts to reach out more strongly to the County’s fast-growing Latino community. Unfortunately, the sample ballot was a textbook example of how not to go about it.
First, the name of incumbent Delegate Ana Sol Gutiérrez (D-18) was misspelled on the sample ballot:
Second, accents and the tilde of ñ were often left out in Spanish text. The office titles are sometimes incorrect, even though they could have been directly copied from the official bilingual version. Even español has been written as espanol:
Finally, the sample ballot directs people on how to find a Spanish sample ballot online. Other than that it doesn’t exist, this is an excellent idea.
Small Mailing and Still Waiting?
Beyond the giant mistake in District 19, the real story may be how many sample ballots were sent out. I am told that elected Democrats were promised that hundreds of thousands would go out but that only around 90,000 were mailed. I am unable to confirm this. MCDCC has made clear that they will not respond to my requests for information, though I understand they are also being closed-mouthed with electeds on this issue too.
While many, including your gentle blogger, have received their Democratic sample ballot, I have heard that other Democrats who did not vote early have yet to receive them. No doubt this is due to the last minute mailing. On the other hand, I imagine Roger (or is it Rich?) Manno must be relieved that at least early voters did not get it before going to the polls.
Missing Signs on Bag Day
There were no signs for either Brown/Ulman or for Brian Frosh. In other words, there were no signs for the two statewide candidates who need strong visible support in Montgomery on Tuesday.
Rumor that Should be Ignored
Some told me that they were shocked that their congressman was left off the sample ballot. This is not an error but intentional in order to comply with federal campaign finance law. Advertising their names counts as a campaign contribution.
Why Did this Happen?
MCDCC Chair Kevin Walling personally managed the sample ballot with his inner circle (the Politburo? the Presidium?) of MCDCC. It arrived very late to the printers and few others were involved to review it and make sure that they got this complex task (different versions need to go to different areas of the County) right.
MCDCC staff has long been dedicated to the Democratic Party and helped with this task many times before. They should not be blamed and I hope no one tries to throw them under the bus in order to save their own reputation.
As in the past, MCDCC has many excellent members. But they need to address these issues squarely. The central problems with MCDCC remain the ones I outlined in a previous post: a lack of accountability, transparency, and inclusion. I should now add incompetence. Mistakes happen but both elected officials and ordinary Democrats are mad about the sample ballot snafu–and rightly so.