Hogan Urged to Authorize Pre-processing of Mail Ballots, SBE encouraged to consider legal action

In the wake of election reporting delays, Common Cause Maryland calls on outgoing Governor to issue Executive Order allowing early canvassing of mail ballots. The State Board of Elections is urged to pursue litigation if no action is taken by the Governor.

Common Cause Maryland today urged outgoing Governor Larry Hogan to issue an Executive Order implementing his support for pre-processing of mail ballots. According to the Attorney General, an Executive Order can be narrowed to allow for the early canvassing of mail-in ballots.

In his veto message for SB 163/HB 862, Hogan said “Early canvassing of absentee ballots would allow hard working election officials to get a much needed head start on the deluge of ballot envelopes that, under current law, must wait until after Election Day for processing.”

In a letter sent today, Common Cause Maryland Policy and Engagement Manager Morgan Drayton noted the July 19 2022 Gubernatorial Primary had a weeks-long delay in certifying results because “More than 345,000 mail-in ballots that were returned could not even begin to be processed until Thursday, July 21.” 

The letter called on Gov. Hogan “to issue an Executive Order allowing for the pre-processing of mail ballots at least eight days before the start of the early voting period. The State Board of Elections is also being urged to take legal action following a June 28, 2022 decision where the Board “elected not to take action.” Failure to do so will likely lead to even longer delays in certifying General Election results than the weeks-long wait after the Primary.

More than 1.5 million Marylanders used mail ballots to vote in the 2020 elections. Nearly 500,000 voters  requested to cast a ballot using this method of voting in the 2022 gubernatorial primary. 

“With COVID-19 and monkeypox cases on the rise, many voters understandably won’t feel safe casting their ballot in-person in November and will want to choose the safety and convenience of voting by mail,” Drayton said in the letter.

“Delays are not only frustrating for everyone involved, but they also allow time and space for election deniers to propagate lies and conspiracy theories about our elections,” she said in the letter. “We are hopeful that the necessary and decisive action will be taken to ensure that Maryland’s elections run smoothly in November.”

Read the full letter here.