Sun Editorial Calls for Election Reforms

With just five weeks to go until Maryland’s primary election, today’s Baltimore Sun editorial “Maryland election law needs a serious upgrade calls for major reforms to state election law.

From the editorial, the Sun questions why Maryland requires gubernatorial candidates to name a running mate when they file:

Why not leave that selection until after the primary, as presidential candidates do? Theoretically, the selection of a running mate could tell voters something about the person who is running for governor — but usually what it demonstrates is the candidate’s political calculations rather than his or her character and judgment. And the down side is that we’ve wasted a lot of political talent over the years from people who have given up their own electoral careers for a shot at being someone’s No. 2.

The Sun further criticizes the State Board of Elections for refusing to reprint ballots in the wake of the sudden death of Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz:

Maryland law does account for the possibility that a candidate for governor would die before an election, but it’s increasingly clear that nobody thought it through all that carefully. As was her right under state law, Kamenetz’s running mate, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, has chosen to run instead. But now state election officials say it’s not only too late to remove Mr. Kamenetz’s name from the ballot, it’s also too late to add hers.

Instead, the State Board of Elections says it will place information in all of Maryland’s precincts to inform voters of Kamenetz’s passing and that the campaign chose to form a new ticket. But that won’t cut it for Ervin, who is contemplating legal action in order to force the State Board to print new ballots.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the State Board of Elections did not have to print new ballots to remove the name of former state senator Nathaniel Oaks, who petitioned to have his name removed from the ballot after resigning from office. With the primary election set for June 26, and early voting starting on June 14, the State Board argued it was too late to reprint ballots.

State and local election officials are responsible for proofreading, testing, and printing all 747 configurations of the primary ballot, which are specific to Maryland’s varying congressional, legislative, and local districts. As previously reported on Conduit Street, State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone estimates that reprinting ballots statewide would cost around $3.5 million – with counties footing 50% of the bill.

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Read the full editorial in The Baltimore Sun

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Reprinting Primary Election Ballots Could Be Costly for Counties