Ervin Sues State in Primary Ballot Battle

Update: Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge William C. Mulford denied Valerie Ervin’s request to reprint ballots so they include her name.

Gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin, who chose to run for governor after the sudden death of her former running mate Kevin Kamenetz, has filed suit in Anne Arundel County in an effort to force the Maryland State Board of Elections to change primary election ballots. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit the State Board from distributing ballots unless they are reprinted or revised to replace the Kamenetz/Ervin ticket with an Ervin/Johnson ticket.

The State Board maintains that not only is it too late to reprint primary ballots, but that the cost – $3.5 million – is cost prohibitive. Instead, election officials plan to post a notice at each polling place to inform voters that a vote for Kamenetz will be counted as a vote for Ervin.

State officials also say that obtaining the paper needed to reprint ballots could be difficult because its vendor may not be able to supply it in time for the primary election.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

State elections officials have said that Ervin’s entry into the race on May 17 was too late to have millions of ballots reprinted with Ervin’s name in place of Kamenetz’s name. They’ve said that only one paper mill makes the paper that Maryland’s voting machines can read, and they can’t obtain that paper until the fourth week of June.

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 Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone estimates that reprinting ballots statewide would cost around $3.5 million – with counties footing 50% of the bill.

In 2001, on the heels of the well-documented national election and passage of the federal Help America Vote Act, Maryland passed legislation establishing a statewide uniform voting system, to be certified by the State Board of Elections. (See HB 1457 of 2001)  HB 1457 created an even split of funding responsibility for voting machines and related systems – from Section 4 of that bill:

Each county shall pay its share of one-half of the State’s cost of acquiring and operating the uniform statewide voting systems for voting in polling places and for absentee voting provided for under this Act, including the cost of maintenance, storage, printing of ballots, technical support and programming, related supplies and materials, and software licensing fees.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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

Read the full article from The Baltimore Sun

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