Pending Legislation Could Smooth Change to New Primary Date
- Joanne Antoine (443) 906-0442 Jantoine@commoncause.org
Common Cause Maryland, League of Women Voters of Maryland call for additional funding to support primary election outreach and passage of mail-in voting legislation
The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation that would ensure State and local Boards of Elections are able to navigate changes being made to the primary election due to redistricting. The primary was originally scheduled for June 28, but yesterday the Maryland Court of Appeals rescheduled it for July 19, 2022. The candidate filing deadline will be April 15, 2022.
Ongoing redistricting litigation has caused uncertainty and delays. But two pending bills – SB 163/HB 329 and HB 862 – include provisions that will help election officials manage the likely increase in eligible voters choosing to vote by mail during a time where many may choose to travel for vacation. These provisions would: provide voters a chance to “cure” any remedial issues with their voted mail-in ballot to prevent rejection; allow for the pre-processing of mail-in ballots to facilitate timely results; and direct that the first certified mail-in ballot be accepted if individuals unintentionally cast more than one ballot in the same election.
Additional funding for public outreach is needed so that election officials will be able to notify voters of changes.
Joint Statement from Common Cause Maryland & League of Women Voters of Maryland
State and local election officials have been doing all that they can to ensure our primary elections, even with the delay, run smoothly. The General Assembly must do all they can to support their efforts as we await a decision from the court on legal challenges to the congressional and legislative maps adopted by the lawmakers.
We knew this would happen and championed redistricting reform that would have helped avoid this situation. California’s maps are drawn by a truly independent, multi-partisan citizen redistricting commission – and California is one of the few states where there are no outstanding legal challenges to the new maps, and its primary election is not at risk of delay. But Maryland lawmakers chose not to reform the redistricting process, and so they must now respect the decision of the Court delaying the primary.
Elections officials need final district lines to begin planning polling locations, and the Court has recognized the litigation process will delay that planning. As we prepare for the now July 19th primary election which could very well be pushed back even further, we urge lawmakers to act swiftly on pending legislation that will ensure the local Boards of Elections are prepared to handle the influx of mail-in ballots.
We also urge the General Assembly and Governor Hogan to make adequate funding available for a robust public outreach campaign. Voter confusion is inevitable and we must do all that we can to ensure voters know when and where to vote. The State Board of Elections needs additional funding to communicate with voters via direct mail and all digital platforms. That funding must be allocated right away.
Partisan gerrymandering is not in the best interest of Maryland voters. We hope lawmakers see that as their own races are impacted by these maps. We urge them, again, to work on reforming the process and to put their own partisan interest aside over the next few months to work with election officials – who are already overworked and understaffed – to ensure a smooth primary.