Statement by Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland
Today’s decision by Governor Hogan to hold the November 3 election “with expanded voting options” flies in the face of recommendations by Local Boards of Elections.
In letters sent to Gov Hogan on June 26 and July 6, the Maryland Association of Election Officials specifically urged that ballots — not applications — be sent to voters.
In their June 26 letter, the MAEO said that mailing applications, rather than ballots, “would jeopardize the entire process [of administering the election].”
On July 6, the MAEO was even more clear, recommending that the Governor reject the option of “spending millions of dollars to mail absentee ballot applications, rather than mailing ballots directly to voters.”
The MAEO said, “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.”
At Common Cause, we are extremely disappointed that Gov. Hogan has disregarded the recommendations of local elections officials.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and most likely won’t be over in November. Voting should be accessible for all eligible Marylanders AND it should also be safe. No one should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote.
The MAEO carefully laid out the consequences of mailing applications, rather than ballots, in this pandemic environment: voter confusion, risk of voters not receiving their ballots in time, lack of personnel to process both applications and ballots, and increased in-person turnout leading to long lines.
Voting rights advocates, including Common Cause, have also been urging Gov. Hogan to have ballots mailed directly to voters, as was done for the June 2 primary. We are disappointed that he could not hear our recommendations, either.
If the outcomes predicted by MAEO come to pass on November 3, we expect Gov. Hogan to accept responsibility for the consequences of his choice today.
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Read Gov. Hogan’s decision, issued today, at https://governor.maryland.gov/2020/07/08/governor-hogan-directs-state-board-of-elections-to-conduct-november-general-election-with-enhanced-voting-options/
Read the June 26 MAEO letter at https://conduitstreet.mdcounties.org/wp-content/uploads/Memo-2020-General-Election.pdf
Read the July 6 MAEO letter at https://conduitstreet.mdcounties.org/wp-content/uploads/2020-Presidential-Election.MAEO_.pdf