MACo Wary of Later Early Voting

MACo Executive Director, Michael Sanderson, submitted written testimony in opposition of HB 83, Elections – Early Voting Centers – Sunday Voting, to the House Ways and Means Committee on February 10, 2016.

This bill would change early voting days of operation to begin two Sundays prior to Election Day and end the Sunday before Election Day.

Under current law, early voting ends the Thursday prior to Election Day, which gives the local boards of election and the State Board of Elections ample time to update e-pollbooks and deliver them to Election Day polling locations. HB 83 would end the early voting period on Sunday, merely two days prior to election day, making it extremely difficult for small jurisdictions to update e-pollbooks, and making it practically impossible in larger jurisdictions.

From MACo’s written testimony,

An analysis performed by the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy, titled Voting and the Administration of Elections in Maryland, confirmed this position. Page 25 of the report stated:

“If early voting were to be extended to the last Sunday before the election, the logistics of delivering updated poll books to polling places in time for setup Monday night become very difficult for smaller jurisdictions and nearly impossible for the larger ones. There would be no safety margin for errors or for uncontrollable externalities such as weather, resulting in a significant risk that multiple precincts would not be ready to open on time.”

The analysis continues to raise possible options for extending early voting, but all would result in significant increased costs for State and county governments.

HB 83 poses financial and administrative difficulties that could undermine the smooth and efficient operations of a vital public process. Therefore, MACo would urge the Committee to issue an UNFAVORABLE report on HB 83.

For more on MACo 2016 legislation, visit the Legislative Database.