Paper Shortage Causing Headaches for Local Election Officials

Paper supply chain challenges concern election officials ahead of 2022 elections.

According to Route Fifty, some state elections offices are having such a hard time finding paper that they could face missing legal deadlines for mailing ballots and notices in the upcoming elections.

Election officials face a critical shortage of paper for election materials like voter registration forms, ballots, mail-in vote envelopes, and voter instruction materials. Ballots, in particular, can only be printed on a specialized kind of paper to ensure that scanners properly detect a voter’s selections.

Adding to the pain of delivery delays, the cost of paper products has increased as well. Pandemic-induced paper mill closures and the rapid shift to e-commerce caused paper prices to skyrocket.

According to Route Fifty:

“The paper shortage is pervasive. It’s across all materials required to conduct an election,” Tammy Patrick, a senior advisor on elections at the nonprofit Democracy Fund, told the Senate Rules Committee.

The shortage worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic when paper companies focused on meeting the corrugated paper demand to ship products to homes, instead of producing as much high-quality paper needed to produce ballots.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Court of Appeals of Maryland issued an order moving the 2022 primary election from June 28 to July 19.

Early voting for the delayed July 19 primary election will begin on July 7 and run through July 14. The deadline to register to vote in the primary is June 28, and the deadline for primary voters to request a mail-in ballot is July 12.

Useful Links

Route Fifty: Paper Shortage Threatens to Cause Election Problems

Conduit Street Podcast: Everything Elections

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Board of Elections Announces Key Dates for 2022 Primary

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