Common Cause Maryland Urges Gov. Hogan to Reconsider Plans for November Election

During a press conference Wednesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he has “almost no role in the election process.”  However, Maryland law gives the Governor specific authority to act during times of emergency — the same powers Gov. Hogan used before the April 28 special election for Congressional District 7 and before the June 2 primary election.

Public health and elections experts held a press conference on July 29, to urge Gov. Hogan to reconsider his plan for the November 3 general election. Zoom video of the press conference is available upon request.

Statement of Common Cause Executive Director Joanne Antoine

Governor Hogan is being disingenuous.

At the end of his press conference Wednesday, he tried convincing the media that he has no power to change the current plans for November’s election.

Gov. Hogan is the one who decided on those plans. He even sent out a press release.

Gov. Hogan is the one who decided that voters should be mailed ballot applications – not the actual ballots, as was done for the April 28 special election and the June 2 primary.

  • That was an expensive decision: according to the State Board of Elections’ request for a supplemental appropriation, it will cost $5.6 million to mail the applications, plus millions more to mail the actual ballots.
  • That was a decision the Maryland Association of Elections Officers specifically recommended against, in letter after letter sent to Gov. Hogan. On July 6 – two days before Gov. Hogan made his decision – the MAEO was blunt: “We cannot overstate the devastating consequences likely to result if the State of Maryland does not plan now to mail every voter a ballot for the 2020 Presidential General Election… a Vote by Mail application should NOT be sent to every registered voter in Maryland prior to ending a ballot.”

Gov. Hogan was the one who decided that every early voting center should be open and every polling location should be open – deciding, in the words of the SBE, that “a traditional general election” should be held despite the pandemic.

  • Gov. Hogan has not reconsidered that decision, despite being told a week ago that there were almost 14,000 vacant Election Judges positions – and the number of vacancies is expected to grow as the election gets closer. “Recruiting Election Judges is the most difficult task for Local Bards under normal circumstances. In the midst of the public health crisis, it is turning into an impossible task.”
  • Gov. Hogan has not reconsidered that decision, despite being warned that locations previously used for voting would not be available this year. “Some facilities have already notified the local boards that they cannot, at this time, agree to serve as an early voting center or election day polling place. We are concerned that public health events – real or perceived – may cause facilities to be withdrawn at the last moment.”

At his press conference, Gov. Hogan implied this was somehow the SBE’s fault – that he couldn’t make changes to the “traditional general election” process because the SBE had not recommended them.

Again, that’s disingenuous. Under his emergency powers, Gov. Hogan has the ability to change election procedures for November 3rd – just as he did for the elections held on April 28 and June 2. Instead, he chose to go ahead with a “traditional election” – even though the SBE had unanimously recommended against it.

There is still time for Gov Hogan to change his mind and direct the SBE to use the same election procedures as were used on April 28 and June 2. It would save at least $5.6 million and a lot of voter confusion.

We hope he reconsiders.