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Center for the Study of Democracy and AAUP encouraging faculty in Maryland to serve as Election Judges in 2006 - 20,000 Needed

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The Center for the Study of Democracy and the American Association of University Professors rolled out the Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative at the Southern Maryland Legislative Reception February 23. The initiative was created to encourage greater civic participation among faculty of Maryland institutions of higher learning by organizing faculty from around the state to serve as election judges in 2006.
Pictured from left to right: Zach Messitte, co-director of the Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative and director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland; James P.

Muldoon, chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Maryland State Senator Roy Dyson; Jane Margaret O’Brien, president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland; and Michael Cain, co-director of the Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative and political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

The Center for the Study of Democracy and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) announced the Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative in Annapolis on February 23 to encourage greater civic participation among faculty of Maryland institutions of higher learning by organizing faculty from around the state to serve as election judges in 2006.  The Center for the Study of Democracy is a joint initiative of St. Mary's College of Maryland and Historic St. Mary's City, founded to explore contemporary and historical issues in democracy.  Primary Day is September 12, 2006, and General Election Day is November 7, 2006.

Maryland State Senator Roy Dyson, who was a sponsor of the Annapolis event where the program was rolled out, said the average age of an election judge is 72 and that a younger generation must involve itself in the election process.  “Not only will this initiative serve as a first step toward increasing educators’ and students’ participation in public affairs, it will offer a solution to other communities,” he said.

The need for 20,000 additional election judges for the 2006 election is a direct impact of the early voting legislation recently passed by Maryland law makers.  The legislation allows for five additional day of polling.  The pilot project, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and originated by the American Association of University Professors, will role out nationally in 2008.

“Many counties in Maryland faced a shortage of election judge volunteers in recent elections,” said Zach Messitte, who is coordinating the project and serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy and an assistant professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “It is important for Maryland's faculty to become involved in their communities and volunteer in this very important part of the electoral process.”

Recently, a group of 25 faculty and election officials from across Maryland met at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the AAUP to discuss the idea of Maryland Professors at the Polls.  The following institutions sent representatives: Salisbury University, Towson State University, American University, the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Hood College, Bowie State, St. Mary's College of Maryland, the University of Baltimore, the Pollworker Institute, the League of Women Voters, the Maryland State Board of Elections, Electionline.org, Just Democracy, and the American Association of Universi

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