The Maryland State Board of Elections Must Provide In-Person Voting Option for Seventh Congressional District Special Election

We recognize the gravity of the circumstances created by COVID-19 and fully appreciate the work Maryland State Board of Elections staff have undertaken in the past few weeks to protect the health of the public while providing safe access to voting. But the Boards failure to provide any in-person voting option in the Seventh Congressional District Special Election will compromise the health of our democracy.

Providing no in-person voting option in the Special Election will disenfranchise voters who have historically faced barriers to accessing the ballot including voters with disabilities, those without a state ID who are not able to register or request an absentee ballot online, those without a permanent residence, those with limited English proficiency, those who require assistance with reading, and many other eligible voters – majority of which will likely be Black as they represent over 53% of the district population.

The State Board of Elections is supposed to promote fair and equitable elections. That includes providing all eligible citizens of Maryland convenient access to voter registration and accessible locations in which they may exercise their right to vote. We understand that the pandemic has made this mission difficult to achieve in the upcoming elections. However, over the next two weeks, we believe the Board can act swiftly – in partnership Maryland Department of Health, who has pledged to assist with executing your constitutional duty – to ensure equitable access to voting in the Special Election so no eligible voter is disenfranchised.

We urge the Board to take our previous recommendation into consideration – allowing for limited in- person voting at the local board of election offices in Baltimore City, Howard County, and Baltimore County on Election Day.

Just as in the Primary Election, limited in-person options in the Special Election are necessary and can be made available in a way that protects election workers and those entering vote centers as outlined in our previous letter.

Even in crisis, we must work to preserve our democratic system. We urge the Board to reverse its decision to provide no in-person voting, ensuring access to the Special Election for every eligible voter in the Seventh Congressional District.