In a scathing letter to the State Board of Elections (SBE), Governor Larry Hogan today demanded an update within 48 hours on the status of mail-in voting and polling places for the November 3 general election.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, under Governor Hogan’s directive, all in-person voting locations will be open and voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application (instead of an absentee ballot).
“With Election Day fast approaching, I am very concerned that the SBE appears to be on a path of repeating the massive failures of the June 2 primary election,” Governor Hogan wrote. As previously reported on Conduit Street, Maryland’s presidential primary election was plagued by long lines, late-arriving/missing ballots, and computer glitches.
“I am now giving SBE 48 hours to report to me, the Board of Public Works, the Secretary of State, the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly, and the public explaining why those applications have not been mailed to Marylanders,” wrote Governor Hogan. “In addition, we expect you to provide your plan for how to conduct the election under existing law, including the minimum number of polling places that you will be able to open in each county.”
The Maryland Association of Election Officials (MAEO), the professional membership organization comprised of local election officials and Election Boards from all 24 jurisdictions in the State of Maryland, has repeatedly warned that Governor Hogan’s plan will be “costly, inefficient, and unsuccessful” and says that the directive will lead to confusion and long lines at polling places.
MAEO is concerned about a shortage of personal protective gear, election judges, and polling places. Many community voting sites, such as schools and senior centers, remain shuttered because of the pandemic.
According to Governor Hogan’s letter:
The November election is just 92 days away. As I said 26 days ago, the applications should be mailed immediately. Further attempts to supress the vote by massive closures of polls must be stopped or there will be serious consequences. Without your immediate action to fix these issues, it is very likely that you will again have massive failures of the June primary repeated in November.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, The State Board of Elections last month requested an additional $20.6 million in state funding to conduct the November election, citing significant costs related to mailing absentee ballot applications to voters, prepaid postage for voters to return mail-in ballots, and a statewide voter education campaign.
A letter from multiple county leaders calls on Governor Larry Hogan to reconsider his plan for the November general election and instead consider the “hybrid” vote-by-mail election with extended in-person voting centers, endorsed by MAEO.