Maryland’s State Board of Elections met Tuesday to decide its recommendations regarding how the November 3 election should be held. The Board issued a report with its recommendations to Gov. Larry Hogan this afternoon.
On June 26, the Maryland Association of Election Officials wrote the Board and other state officials “to urge that the 2020 Presidential General Election by conducted primarily by mail, with more in-person vote centers available than in the Primary Election.” The letter specifically recommended that ballots be mailed directly to voters, rather than requiring voters to use the absentee ballot application process, because “the [Local Boards of Elections] do not have enough personnel to managing processing all of the requests, in addition to receiving ballots.” The letter said requiring applications “would jeopardize the entire process” of administering the election.
However, when the State Board met on Tuesday, it did not endorse the MAEO recommendation of mailing ballots to voters.
Statement of Tierra Bradford, Policy Manager of Common Cause Maryland
This week the State Board of Elections came together to discuss what went right, and what went wrong with the primary election. They had an opportunity to take the lessons learned and create recommendations that would ensure safe, healthy voting options for every eligible voter.
Unfortunately, instead of recommending a plan that would promote social distancing by sending every eligible voter a mail ballot, protecting early vote, and ensuring there are enough polling locations open to prevent long lines, the State Board’s recommendations actually create more confusion, bureaucracy, and fewer options for voters. No eligible voter should have to choose between the health of their families and their say in our democracy, and to our disappointment the recommendations laid out this week put Marylanders across the state in exactly that position.
The State Board should be making decisions based on facts and, in the primary, there was no evidence to suggest that vote-by-mail was less secure than in-person voting. The paper-based system is not hackable, can easily be audited to ensure the election results are correct, and has already been tested and proven secure time and time again in states across the country.
The local boards of election agree and have acknowledged that while there were some challenges in the implementation of vote-by-mail, they have learned valuable lessons and believe there is adequate time to remedy these issues before the general.
As Governor Hogan reviews the report, including recommendations for the general election provided by SBE, we urge him to focus on providing safe options that allow every eligible voter who wants to vote in the November election to do so. Vote-by-mail coupled with expanded in-person voting options is the solution, as it provides a secure way of voting that protects both the public health and the integrity of our elections. It also ensures fairness and expands access to the ballot so every eligible voter can participate and make their voices heard in a safe and secure way.
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Read the MAEO letter at https://conduitstreet.mdcounties.org/wp-content/uploads/Memo-2020-General-Election.pdf
View the State Board’s deliberations at https://elections.maryland.gov/about/board.html