Reprinting Primary Election Ballots Could Be Costly for Counties

Reprinting Primary Election Ballots Statewide Would Cost $3.5 million – With Counties Footing 50% of the Bill

The sudden death of Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz sent shockwaves across Maryland. Under state law, his running mate, former Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, has until May 17 to decide whether to dissolve the campaign, name someone to take Kamenetz’s place, or run for governor herself and name a lieutenant governor running mate.

Regardless of how Ervin chooses to move forward, and with just weeks to go before Maryland’s gubernatorial primary election, one question is front and center: Will the State Board of Elections be required to reprint some 747 versions of the primary ballot?

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the State Board of Elections did not have to print new ballots to remove the name of former state senator Nathaniel Oaks, who petitioned to have his name removed from the ballot after resigning from office. With the primary election set for June 26, and early voting starting on June 14, the State Board argued it was too late to reprint ballots.

According to Maryland Matters:

Further complicating the matter is that the State Board of Elections last week mailed all the military and overseas absentee ballots — with the Kamenetz-Ervin pairing on them — in accordance with federal law requiring that they go out by Saturday, 45 days before the election.

Linda H. Lamone, Maryland elections administrator, said late Friday she had no plans to have the primary ballots reprinted at this point because she maintains a section of state election law gives her discretion in determining whether there is sufficient time to revise the ballots with the correct names.

And in Lamone’s assessment, there is not enough time to make any change, given the complexity of such an undertaking, the potential for error — and the fact that the overseas and military ballots already have been mailed out.

“I’m not going to do anything unless ordered by a court to do it,” she said.

State and local election officials are responsible for proofreading, testing, and printing all 747 configurations of the primary ballot, which are specific to Maryland’s varying congressional, legislative, and local districts.

Lamone estimates that reprinting ballots statewide would cost around $3.5 million – with counties footing 50% of the bill.

In 2001, on the heels of the well-documented national election and passage of the federal Help America Vote Act, Maryland passed legislation establishing a statewide uniform voting system, to be certified by the State Board of Elections. (See HB 1457 of 2001)  HB 1457 created an even split of funding responsibility for voting machines and related systems – from Section 4 of that bill:

[E]ach county shall pay its share of one-half of the State’s cost of acquiring and operating the uniform statewide voting systems for voting in polling places and for absentee voting provided for under this Act, including the cost of maintenance, storage, printing of ballots, technical support and programming, related supplies and materials, and software licensing fees.

Ultimately, the laws governing the reprinting of election ballots, including how much authority the State Board has in determining whether such a reprint is necessary, are somewhat ambiguous. Should Ervin elect to stay in the race, she may request that primary ballots be reprinted. Given that the State Board seems unlikely to grant such a request, the question of whether or not to reprint primary election ballots will likely be adjudicated in the courts.

Major Issues & More–90 Day Report Reviews the Maryland Legislative Session

The Department of Legislative Services annual synopsis of the General Assembly’s time in Annapolis provides an update on budget, education, transportation, and health issues addressed in laws that passed – and didn’t pass – in the 2018 Session. 

As described the the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the 90 Day Report is divided into 12 parts, each discussing a major policy area.

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This chart from the 90 Day Report provides a summary of the State’s K-12 funding from fiscal years 2018-2019.

The areas include, among others (links will take the reader to the start of each sections, though there are other the references throughout the document):

Budget/Fiscal (includes resolving structural budget and addressing federal tax reform)

Business and Labor (includes paid sick leave legislation’s veto override)

Education (includes education funding, school construction, and school safety issues)

Health (includes opioids and cannabis topics)

State Government (covers elections security)

Transportation (includes highway user revenues legislation)

The Department of Legislative Services will release another report, the Effect of the 2018 Legislative Program on the Financial Condition of the State after the Governor has signed or vetoed all bills passed by the General Assembly.



Feds Release $380M for Election Cybersecurity

Counties question how much of the $380 million Congress allocated for election security will reach them.

The United States Election Assistance Commission is notifying states this month about their allocation of the $380 million awarded by Congress bolster election security. The funds are part of a spending bill recently signed by President Trump.

In order to be eligible for funding, states are required to match five percent of the funds within two years of their receipt. The funds can be used in the following ways:

  • Replace voting equipment that only records a voter’s intent electronically with equipment that uses a voter-verified paper record
  • Implement a post-election audit system that provides a high level of confidence in the accuracy of the final vote tally
  • Upgrade election-related computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities identified through Department of Homeland Security or similar scans or assessments of existing election systems
  • Facilitate cybersecurity training for the state chief election official’s office and local election officials
  • Implement established cybersecurity best practices for election systems
  • Fund other activities that will improve the security of elections for federal office.

According to NACo:

Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing more than 109,000 polling places and coordinating more than 694,000 poll workers every two years.

It’s still up in the air how the money will be spent in each state, but some county election officials contacted by County News offered their ideas. To begin: Will counties see some of that money?

“I think it’s very possible counties will see some of that money, especially larger urban counties,” said Neal Kelley, registrar of voters, Orange County, Calif. “It’s earmarked for hardening networks, hardening systems and additional protections, so it can’t just be at the state level. They need to pass that through and down to the counties.”

Where are the security risks?

“A huge chunk of the risk, in the elections infrastructure, is with the voter registration databases, that’s where the Russians hacked,” said Weber County, Utah Clerk-Auditor Ricky Hatch, whose state recently OK’d funding for new voting equipment purchases.

“When they talk about the Russians trying to get into 21 states, it’s the voter registration databases they were trying to get into,” he said. “Most states are the managers and owners of voter registration databases and counties are participants, but it’s hosted and led by the state.” Hatch noted that another aspect of elections that needs to be shored up is election night reporting.

Aging voting machines

Some counties are using election equipment more than 10 years old, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. The center recently surveyed 229 officials in 33 states who reported they need to replace their voting machines by 2020. But most do not have enough funds to replace them. The problems that can take place when using older machines include Election Day malfunctions resulting in longer lines and the possibility for hacks even if they are not directly connected to the Internet.

For counties considering new voting machines, the clock is ticking. Given the timeframe before the November elections, trying to use the funding to add new voting machines before then just is not doable, Cook County Director of Elections Noah Praetz said. “We’re seven months out from an election…the idea that you could turn around a procurement in that amount of time is exceedingly difficult.”

“This money only covers a small fraction of what’s necessary to upgrade,” he said. “Just given an installation cycle, there’s almost no way anybody could turn this money around to get equipment.”

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Governor Funds, and BPW Okays, Split Funding For Voting Equipment

NACo Coverage

Round-up of the 2018 Session for Counties

MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail.

2018 Legislative Results Infographic

MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City).

The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies, ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.

Our policy staff have compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.

For the 2018 End of Session Wrap-up for each subject MACo covers, click below:

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Assessments and Taxation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Disparity Grants

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Economic Development Tax Credits

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Elections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environmental Legislation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Finance and Procurement

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Government Liability & Courts

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Health & Human Services

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Housing & Community Development

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Intergovernmental Relations *MACo Initiative Area*

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Parks & Recreation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Pensions

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Property Taxes

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Safety and Corrections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Road Funding * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: School Construction * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: State Budget & Fiscal Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Tax Sale Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Transportation and Public Works

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Wynne Tax Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: County Tax Revenues

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Other Tax Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Elections

The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of elections policy in the 2018 General Assembly. 

Follow links for more coverage on Conduit Street and MACo’s Legislative Database.

Post-Election Administration

Push Icons-DEFEATEDMACo opposed a bill to impose a variety of onerous and costly changes on state election law relating to post-election audits, voter registration infrastructure, and voting machines. MACo raised concerns that this legislation placed a substantial administrative and cost burden onto local Boards of Election, whose operations are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bill represented a potentially large unfunded mandate on local governments. House Bill 767 was not passed by the General Assembly.

The other bill would have similarly enabled county governments to establish a system of public campaign financing for elected offices in the Maryland General Assembly.

Bill Information | MACo Coverage

Cyber Security

Push Icons-IMPROVEDMACo supported a bill seeking reforms to State election law systems security, with amendments to curb unintended consequences for county governments. MACo’s amendments strike a reasonable balance between the need for security and reporting, and undue burdens on county election boards. The legislation was amended to meet MACo’s concerns and passed by both houses of the General Assembly

Bill Information

MACo opposed a bill that would have imposed a variety of onerous and costly changes on state election law relating to post-election audits, voter registration infrastructure, and voting machines. Counties were concerned the legislation placed a substantial administrative and cost burden onto local Boards of Election, whose operations are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bill represented a potentially dramatic unfunded mandate on local governments.

Bill Information

House Advances Bill to Allow Same Day Voter Registration

The Maryland House of Delegates today gave final approval to House Bill 532, Elective Franchise – Registration and Voting at Precinct Polling Place. The final vote was 91-47.

The bill proposes amending the Maryland Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to allow a qualified individual to register and vote at a precinct polling place on Election Day. As is the case with all proposed amendments to the Maryland Constitution, the measure must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Maryland General Assembly. If the law is passed, the Constitutional Amendment would need to be approved by voters in the 2018 Gubernatorial Election.

Prior to passing the bill, the House of Delegates rejected an amendment proposed by Delegate Susan McComas that would have required anyone who registers to vote on Election Day provide identification and sign a sworn affidavit attesting to their identity.

The bill’s cross-file, Senate Bill 594, was heard by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 15 and no further action has been taken on the bill since the hearing.

MACo did not take a position on HB 532/SB 594.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

County Officials Seeking State Offices

With the filing deadline behind us, Conduit Street shares a survey of county elected officials, from around the state, who have thrown their hat into the ring for state-level offices.

State Senate (sorted by District number)

Frederick County Council member Billy Shreve (R) has filed to run for State Senate in District 3, where incumbent Democrat Ron Young is running for re-election.

Howard County Council member Mary Kay Sigaty (D) has filed to run for State Senate in District 12, where incumbent Senator Ed Kasmeyer is retiring. Current Delegate Clarence Lam has also filed to run for the seat in the Democratic primary.

Prince George’s County Council Member Obie Patterson (D), a former State Delegate, has filed for Senate District 26. Incumbent Senator C. Anthony Muse (D) has filed to run for County Executive.

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Click here to see the complete list of candidates for all State Senate seats.

State Delegate (sorted by District number)

Former Howard County Council Member Courtney Watson (D) has filed for Delegate District 9B, where incumbent Bob Flanagan (R) is seeking re-election.

Howard County Council Member Jen Terrasa (D) has filed for Delegate District 13, where one of three incumbents Frank Turner (D) has announced his retirement.

Prince George’s County Council Member Mary Lehman (D) has filed for Delegate in District 21, where one of three incumbents Barbara Frush (D) has announced her retirement.

Prince George’s County Council Member Andrea Harrison (D) has filed for Delegate in District 24, where one of three incumbents Carolyn J.B. Howard is not seeking re-election.

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Charles County Commissioner Debra Davis (D) has filed to run for Delegate in District 28, where one of the three incumbents, Sally Jameson, has indicated she will not file for re-election.

Anne Arundel County Council Member Jerry Walker (R) has filed to run in District 33, where all three incumbent Delegates have filed for re-election.

Harford County Council member James “Cap’n Jim” McMahan has filed to run in District 34, where incumbent Susan McComas has filed for re-election.

Former Baltimore City Council Member Carl Stokes has filed to run for Delegate in District 43, where incumbent Mary Washington is running for State Senate.

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Click here to see the full list of candidates filed for Delegate races statewide.

Some Images Courtesy of Maryland Manual On-Line

Counties Cannot Completely Shoulder New Election Audits

MACo Associate Director Barbara Zektick testified in opposition to House Bill 767, “Election Law – Securing Elections From Foreign Interference”, before the House Ways and Means Committee on February 27, 2018.

This bill would require local Boards of Election to absorb a significant tactical and fiscal burden by requiring additional auditing of random samples of ballots and mandating that election infrastructure and equipment be updated at least once every ten years. These changes would require a significant addition in the amount of staff to conduct a manual audit of a certain number of ballots within 10 days of an election. This is in addition to election audits already in place. In this legislation, counties would be forced to shoulder a large majority of the cumbersome and costly changes.

From MACo Testimony:

As a rule, MACo resists state policies that result in costly or burdensome local implementation. This bill would result in substantial costs to local Boards of Election. Incorporating a new manual count process of this magnitude would require significant staff overtime or additional staff to perform the audit within the 10-day timeframe to certify an election. Furthermore, local Boards of Election indicate that upgrading or replacing the State’s election infrastructure would cost taxpayers millions of dollars, even without any documented concerns about system vulnerability.

Under state law, counties have no choice but to fund these costs – competing for limited local funds against education, public safety, roadway maintenance, and other essential public services.

This bill would place a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy.”

For more updates, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

Public Campaign Financing Option Gives Counties Flexibility

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 227 to the House Ways and Means Committee on February 6, 2018. This bill authorizes the county to establish a system of public financing of campaigns for elected offices in the General Assembly.

This gives county and local governments increased flexibility in handling the financing of local campaigns that are unique to each jurisdiction.

From MACo Testimony:

This legislation properly leaves the decision for establishing a system of public campaign financing in the hands of the local governments, who are best situated to determine whether such a policy is in their best interest.

HB 227 ensures local governments have flexibility in enacting local policies designed to serve and react to community needs.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.


Carroll Seeking Paid Election Judges

Carroll County is looking to fill ninety paid election judge positions available for the upcoming primary election Tuesday, June 26, and general election Tuesday, Nov. 6.

According to the Carroll County Times,

“We’re in desperate need of judges,” said Katherine Berry, Carroll County Board of Elections’ election director. “They are critical to the success of our elections because they are in charge of the polling places. Anybody registered to vote in the state of Maryland is eligible.”

Berry said prospective judges must attend a one- to three-hour training session, which will be scheduled between April and June. All judges will be paid $30. Chief judges will be paid $225, check-in judges and voting judges will be paid $175, and provisional judges will be paid $185. Early voting compensation amounts include $200 per day for chief judges, $150 per day for check-in judges and voting judges, and $165 per day for provisional judges.

Under Maryland law, you can serve as an election judge if you are:

  • Age 16 or older
  • Are a registered voter in Maryland;
  • Physically and mentally able to work at least a 15-hour day;
  • Willing to work outside your home precinct;
  • Able to sit and/or stand for an extended period; and
  • Can speak, read, and write English.

You cannot be an election judge and a:

  • Candidate or currently hold a public or political office, including State and county political party central committees, or
  • Chairman, campaign manager or treasurer for a political or candidate committee

Those interested in becoming an election judge should complete an online survey at Candidates without Internet capabilities should call 410-386-2959.

Read the full article for more information.