Counties Support Reasonable Flexibility for Canvass of Absentee Ballots

MACo Associate Director Kevin Kinnally submitted testimony the Ways & Means Committee to support with amendments HB 555 – Election Law – Absentee Ballots – Timing of Canvass. This bill, cross-filed with SB 362, provides local boards of elections with necessary and reasonable flexibility for the canvass of absentee ballots, avoiding administrative complications that could disrupt the timely certification of election results.

More specifically, this bill eliminates the need for wireless networking because it allows the absentee ballot canvass to start up to 24 hours later than current law. This additional flexibility provides SBE and local boards of elections with more time for the necessary preparatory work before the canvass.

From the MACo Testimony:

Local boards of elections rely on the State Board of Elections (SBE) to verify voter information prior to canvassing absentee ballots. As Maryland begins to implement same-day voter registration, the process of registering a person to vote, making the required checks, and adding the information to the database will take a substantial amount of time. Because SBE may require additional time to verify pollbook information, granting local boards limited discretion in scheduling the absentee canvass is a sensible solution to serve and react to community needs.

. . . MACo requests the following amendment to address inconsistencies between state statute and SBE regulations:

On page 2 strike in their entirety lines 1 through 2 and substitute:
(B) (1) A LOCAL BOARD MAY COMMENCE THE CANVASS NO EARLIER THAN 10 A.M. ON THE THURSDAY FOLLOWING ELECTION DAY AND NO LATER THAN 10 A.M. ON THE FRIDAY FOLLOWING ELECTION DAY.

See the blog post for MACO’s supporting testimony for SB 362 submitted last week.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.

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