Maryland Senate Republicans Oppose Statewide Vote-By-Mail Election in November

Maryland Senate Republicans resist calls for a (mostly) vote-my-mail general election in November.

ballot-1294935_1280The Maryland Senate Republican Caucus yesterday sent a letter to the State Board of Elections urging against calls for a (mostly) vote-by-mail election in November.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Senate President Ferguson and Chair of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee Paul Pinsky are recommending a “hybrid mail-in ballot preferred election” with four critical changes from the June 2 Primary:

  • Providing more ballot drop-off boxes;
  • Providing more in-person voting sites per jurisdiction on election day;
  • Allowing voters to cast ballots at early voting centers; and
  • Developing an enhanced communication plan that better coordinates State and Local Board engagement with the voting public, particularly within historically disenfranchised communities

A “hybrid mail-in preferred election” would require the Board to mail ballots to all registered voters in Maryland, and would provide more opportunities for in-person voting than those provided in on June 2 Primary for voters who either do not receive ballots in the mail or who prefer to vote in-person.

The Senate Republican Caucus is instead calling for Maryland to hold a traditional election in November, noting that voters can request an absentee ballot if they choose not to vote in person.

According to the letter:

Free and fair elections are the foundation of our civil society and recent and continued missteps, failures and lack of accountability have shaken the public’s confidence in Maryland’s election process. This confidence must be restored by November’s General Election.

We appreciate the proactive approach presented by the Senate President and Chairman Pinsky in their June 23rd letter and agree with their emphasis on improved accountability, communication, and transparency. However, we strongly object to their recommendation for a “hybrid mail-in preferred election… that would require the Board [of Elections] to mail General Election ballots to all registered voters in Maryland.”

Sending thousands of unsolicited ballots to voters who have moved since they last voted will litter the state with unclaimed ballots and create serious opportunities for voter fraud. The sight of unclaimed ballots strewn about is enough to undermine public confidence in the integrity of our elections at a time when we already appear to have a crisis in public confidence in government.

The State of Maryland already has an established mail-in election option – the absentee ballot. Voters who are uncomfortable or unable to vote in person, due to COVID-19 or any other reason, may request and return an absentee ballot. The absentee voting process was put in place for exactly this reason and has been an important and successful component of the Maryland’s elections for decades.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Larry Hogan in April approved a plan to conduct Maryland’s presidential primary election primarily via mail-in ballots, with limited locations to submit completed ballots at designated drop-off locations or to vote in-person on election day.

While Maryland’s presidential primary election was plagued by long lines, late-arriving/missing ballots, and computer glitches, the State Board of Elections has yet to announce a plan for the November general election.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Conduit Street Podcast: A View From the Senate

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Leaders Outline Roadmap for November Election

Letter to State Board of Elections from Senate Republican Caucus

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Urges Marylanders to Vote By Mail for Presidential Primary Election

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Today: House-Senate Joint Committee Briefing to Review Primary Election

Conduit Street Podcast: Holding Elections Amid a Pandemic