Prince George’s Urges Additional State Funding to Support General Election

The Prince George’s County Council today voted to authorize Council Chair Todd M. Turner’s signature on a joint letter with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks urging Governor Larry Hogan to continue support for the 2020 Presidential General Election by providing additional funding and operational assistance for local Boards of elections.

While the letter expresses appreciation to Governor Hogan and the Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) for their decision to modify the original order from a primarily in-person general election to a hybrid option that includes the use of vote-by-mail, in-person voting, sufficient Election Day voting centers, and dropbox locations, the County also notes the additional costs to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections and other counties to conduct an election amidst a pandemic.

While state statute mandates that counties pay half of the postage costs for mail-in ballots, Governor Hogan’s directive for the Board to send all registered voters mail-in ballot applications — rather than mail-in ballots — will result in unforeseen and substantial costs for local boards of elections, whose operations are supported by county funding.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, MACo and Senator Cheryl Kagan sent letters to SBE requesting a formal vote to recommend that the State pay the total cost (printing, mailing, and return postage) for ballot applications. While the Board unanimously voted to approve the request, the Department of Budget and Management — which must approve the allocation of additional state funds — has yet to formally respond to the Board’s recommendation.

The Prince George’s County Board of Elections estimates additional unbudgeted costs to the County of over $3.5 million to carry out the election — which include expenses related to the mailing of ballots and ballot applications, the purchase and security of ballot dropboxes, and personal protective equipment for poll workers.

According to the joint letter:

“State legislation and partnerships have been for the State and Counties to share costs for the implementation of elections in the State.  We join with the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) and the State Board of Elections in requesting additional State financial contribution to the Prince George’s and other local Board of Elections to conduct this unique General Election.”

“The November 3rd General Election will undoubtedly be one of the most consequential in recent history, and we have an obligation to ensure that poll workers are protected, residents remain safe, and every ballot is counted, said Council Chair Turner. “The Council remains committed to working with Governor Hogan, our State elected officials and residents to address our funding challenges so every resident has an opportunity to safely exercise their right to vote.”

“We are in the midst of unprecedented times, which has required us to take extra measures to ensure that Prince Georgians have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in a manner that is safe,” said County Executive Alsobrooks. “Our County Board of Elections has been working diligently to oversee a safe and fair election, however with the unbudgeted, but necessary expenses that have arisen, we are hopeful that the state will provide an additional financial contribution due to the cost of this very unique election process.”

While state and local election officials are urging residents to vote by mail, SBE last week published a list of early voting and election day voting locations for Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Early voting will be held from Monday, October 26, 2020, through Monday, November 2, 2020. Early voting and Election Day voting centers will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. Eligible voters may cast their ballots at any authorized voting location within their jurisdiction of residence.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Prince George’s County Joint Letter to Governor Larry Hogan (September 22, 2020)

Previous Conduit Steet Coverage: State Posts Early Voting and Election Day Voting Center Sites

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Election Officials to Voters: Ignore Inaccurate Postal Service Mailers

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Get Your Ballot by Mail (Not Email) to Save Time and Money

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: New $250 Million Grant Program Available to Local Election Officials

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Check Your Mailbox: Mail-In Ballot Applications Are on the Way

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Board OKs MACo’s Request for Additional State Funding for Mail-In Ballot Applications

Senator Kagan’s Letter to the State Board of Elections (August 14, 2020)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State to Provide More Ballot Drop Boxes, Allow for Earlier Canvassing of Mail-In Ballots

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo on General Election: State Should Pay Extra Ballot Costs

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Board to Governor: Designate All High Schools as Vote Centers On Election Day

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Local Officials Make Final Appeal to Avoid “Catastrophic Failure” on Election Day

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Hogan Demands Update on Mail-In Ballots, Polling Places for Nov Election

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Local Election Directors: Emergency Pollworker Shortage Will Lead to Long Lines, Voter Confusion

Letter from MAEO (July 23, 2020)

Conduit Street Podcast: Wrestling With Reopening

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Board Seeks Additional $20M for Nov Election

Letter from State Administrator LindaLamone (July 21, 2020)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Several County Leaders Ask Hogan to Reconsider Directive for Nov Election

County Letter to Governor Hogan (July 14, 2020)

Maryland Congressional Delegation Letter to Governor Hogan (July 9, 2020)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Local Election Directors Ask Hogan to Reject “Ill-Advised” Plan for Nov Election

State Board of Elections: Report on June 2 Election & Recommendations for November 3 Election

MAEO Letter to Governor Hogan (July 6, 2020)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Local Election Administrators Urge (Mostly) Vote-By-Mail Election in November

Conduit Street Podcast: A View From the Senate

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

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Maryland Senate Republicans Oppose Statewide Vote-By-Mail Election in November

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