State Approves, But Questions, Election Contract Hike

The Board of Public Works this week approved a substantial increase in a State Board of Elections contract, but asked several questions about the jump in labor costs associated with the changes. The discussion around the immediate decision also foretells a pending request for additional equipment, with increased administration costs arising in Baltimore County and several smaller jurisdictions, citing concerns with long voter lines and additional early voting locations.

The full Board meeting was streamed online, and is archived at the BPW website.

The Daily Record has substantial subscriber-only coverage of the meeting, as well.

Maryland Official Resigns from Trump Voter Fraud Panel

Maryland’s deputy Secretary of State has resigned from a controversial Trump administration panel probing alleged voter fraud in last year’s presidential election.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Deputy Secretary of State Luis E. Borunda, a former Baltimore County school board member, informed the Hogan administration Monday that he resigned from Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, according to Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer.

Mayer said Borunda joined Trump’s 15-member bipartisan panel “on his own,” and was not appointed by the governor.

“He informed our office he has resigned from the commission,” Mayer said. Borunda did not respond to a request for comment.

President Donald J. Trump created the commission with an executive order in May after alleging millions voted illegally for his opponent in the presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump has not offered evidence to back up his assertion.

Borunda’s appointment prompted some head scratching in Maryland. Unlike in many other states, the Secretary of State’s office in Maryland has no role in voter registration or the administration of elections.

Borunda’s resignation coincides with Maryland’s refusal to comply with a request from President Trump’s voter integrity commission to supply data on the state’s registered voters.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Md. Election Board Denies White House Commission’s Request For Voter Data

Read the full article from The Baltimore Sun

Md. Election Board Denies White House Commission’s Request For Voter Data

Maryland will not comply with a request from President Trump’s voter integrity commission to supply data on the state’s registered voters.

According to The Washington Post,

Maryland’s primary election (photo credit: The Washington Post)

Linda H. Lamone, the administrator for the state Board of Elections, said in a letter on Monday to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that the request violates state election law.

“Disclosure of some of the information encompassed by your request may be prohibited under State and/or federal law,” the letter reads. “Accordingly, I am denying your request.”

Maryland joins more than two dozen other states that have partially or entirely rejected the request by the commission, which is chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.. The Maryland board had sought advice from state Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) on how to respond to the unprecedented request, which was made last week.

Both Common Cause Maryland and the ACLU of Maryland had raised questions about whether turning over the data would violate state election law.

Damon Effingham, legal and policy director for Common Cause Maryland, said Maryland law only allows only Maryland registered voters to request to inspect voter roll information. The voter has to submit a statement that the information would not be used for commercial purposes or purposes unrelated to the electoral process.

“Secretary of State Kobach is a registered voter in Kansas,” Effingham said in a statement. “And the request . . . does not include any indication of how the data will be used, let alone the required statement of intent under Maryland law. In fact, the Commission has stated its intent to release this vast trove of data to the public, creating significant concerns with how that data will ultimately be used.”

Click here to read the full statement from the State Board of Elections.

Will You Throw the First Pitch?

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Step up and share your county’s IT needs at MACo’s Summer Conference.

This year’s MACo Conference offers attendees an opportunity to voice county government information technology interests directly to private sector providers in an informal, informational format.

Share challenges & discover capabilities in this new Tech Wednesday offering.

SWITCH PITCH” IGNITE! — Meet Your Match: Solutions to County IT Challenges

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Gain quick insight into what tech can do for county governments in this fast-paced session. County IT and management professionals will state their needs, and vendors in the Tech Expo Tradeshow will respond with their pitch for solving the top tech issues. Attendees will get a chance to learn a little about a lot of vendors in a short period of time. Listen and learn!

Example County Pitches

  1. How do I empower employees to work from home in a secure and productive manner at minimal cost to the County?
  2. There are so many mobile apps in the market. Other than reading through the reviews, how can one determine the overall quality of a mobile app?  Is there a standard to check an app’s quality? What is it?
  3. What and where have been some of the more successful public/private partnerships providing broadband to unserved rural areas?

SIGN UP HERE TO BE A PART OF THIS SESSION Space is limited – Reply by July 19.

Have a pitch, but you are not attending this session?  Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo.

Tech Wednesday Vendor List

  • AVI-SPL, Inc
  • CDW-G
  • Comcast
  • Commvault
  • Cybersecurity Association of Maryland, Inc.
  • Data Networks of America
  • ePlus Technology Inc.
  • Esri
  • Freedom Broadband
  • Fujitsu America, Inc.
  • GovDeals, Inc.
  • Juniper Networks
  • Lenovo
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Libraries
  • Maryland Relay
  • Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Musco Sports Lighting
  • NIC Maryland
  • Phillips Office Solutions
  • Presidio
  • Prosys Information Systems
  • Regent Development Consulting, Inc. (RDC)
  • Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc.
  • Rudolph’s Office & Computer Supply, Inc.
  • SAIC
  • ShoreScan Solutions
  • Splunk
  • Sprint
  • Supply Solutions, LLC
  • Tomi Environmental Solutions

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker Announces 2018 Gubernatorial Bid

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III announced Wednesday that he is running for governor, sending a video message to news outlets and supporters that explains why he believes he can emerge from a crowded field of Democrats to challenge Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s bid for a second term.

Baker, 58, is midway through his seventh year as leader of the state’s second-largest jurisdiction. He has focused on improving schools, streamlining county services, and stimulating economic growth.

The Washington Post reports,

A former state lawmaker with a law degree from Howard University, Baker would become Maryland’s first African American governor and the first county executive to serve in the role since Parris N. Glendening (D), also of Prince George’s, did from 1995 to 2003.

“Being county executive gives me a good vantage point to look at Maryland as a whole, because we are urban, suburban and rural,” Baker said in an interview before his campaign announcement.

“When I look at what we had to do in Prince George’s, given the circumstances we were in, and I look at the state, it’s not dissimilar,” he added.

The son of a U.S. Army Special Forces officer and a nurse’s aide, Baker was born in Georgia. His family moved frequently, including stints in Okinawa, Japan, before settling in Massachusetts, when he attended high school.

After law school, Baker worked on Capitol Hill, in the D.C. government and as legal counsel for a nonprofit community development and social services organization.

He married his college sweetheart, civil rights lawyer Christa Beverly, and settled in Prince George’s, where he forged ties with fellow black politicos, including Wayne K. Curry, the late county executive. In 1994, with Curry’s guidance, Baker won a seat in the House of Delegates representing Cheverly and parts of Bladensburg.

But Baker badly wanted to be county executive. He lost two primary races, the first while serving in the House of Delegates. In 2010, he tried again and defeated four other Democrats in the primary, later easily winning the general election. Days later, federal agents arrested outgoing county executive Jack B. Johnson (D) on corruption charges.

Baker has traveled the state for months, sharing his story of an economic and civic resurgence in Prince George’s County, the only majority-black jurisdiction in Maryland besides Baltimore City and one of the most affluent majority-black jurisdictions in the nation.

In addition to pushing through ethics reform and seizing partial control of the struggling school system, Baker has boosted development around Metro stations and shepherded major projects, including a regional medical center slated to break ground in the fall. He abandoned his initial opposition to gambling in the county and became a major supporter of the glittering MGM National Harbor casino, which opened to rave reviews in December.

Before launching his campaign, Baker said he had to decide whether he thought he could do a better job than Hogan. That was the standard that Baker’s wife, whom he calls the driving force in his political career, had set in his previous races.

Beverly was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2012. Her condition has deteriorated considerably, but the county executive still includes her — along with their three adult children — in campaign meetings and conversations.

Her illness, Baker said, has increased his awareness of “the issues facing working men and women” who juggle work and caretaking. It’s also made him impatient about implementing public policy.

“Time is a precious commodity,” Baker said. “People want to know what you can do now.

“And I understand it, because I don’t know what tomorrow is.”

Read the full article for more information.

State Elections Board Saw ‘Suspicious Activity’

Maryland’s State Board of Elections detected “suspicious activity” on the computer system it uses for online voter registration before last fall’s election and called in cybersecurity experts to evaluate it, administrator Linda H. Lamone said Wednesday.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Lamone’s disclosure came in response to an inquiry by The Baltimore Sun amid reports that Russian cyberattacks had breached election systems in 39 states.

Lamone said the system was not penetrated. She said the activity did not compromise vote tabulation.

“Because of our strong security protocols, the system was not breached,” Lamone said. “However, as an extra security precaution we had cybersecurity experts investigate the system and no intrusion was detected.”

Lamone said Maryland election officials shared the information about the activity with the Department of Homeland Security. She said Maryland’s experts did not determine the origin of the apparent attempted breach. Nor has the state heard back from Homeland Security about who might have made the attempt, Lamone added.

The system that was the apparent target of the attempt is one on which voters can sign on to register to vote, update personal information and request absentee ballots. They said it is entirely separate from the state’s voter registration database, which is not connected to the internet.

Maryland’s actual vote tabulations are conducted by local election officials in Baltimore and the counties. Elections officials say those systems are not online either.

Lamone said the online registration system is monitored constantly. She said any changes made online are verified by local board employees.

Read the full article for more information.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman Launches Re-Election Campaign

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman launched his 2018 re-election campaign Monday evening at the Columbia lakefront – the same location where he announced his candidacy for county executive four years ago.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

More than 100 Howard County officials, business owners and residents gathered June 12, holding red and yellow campaign signs that read “Kittleman” and “Independent Leader – People, not politics.” District 5 Councilman Greg Fox, Howard County Sheriff Bill McMahon and Howard County Fire Chief John Butler were among the crowd.

During his announcement, Kittleman detailed county accomplishments under his leadership since 2013, including eliminating a $15.8 million deficit, restructuring county government offices and establishing local business initiatives.

“I’m thrilled to have this many people to support us and I’m looking forward to the campaign. We’ll have a lot of things to talk about,” Kittleman said. “Howard County will hopefully have a bright future and people can expect our quality of life to continue to improve.”

Read the full article for more information.

Madaleno Wins Anne Arundel Democrats’ Gubernatorial Straw Poll

Maryland Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) won an online gubernatorial straw poll organized by the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee.

The Washington Post reports,

Madaleno received 32 percent of the 272 votes cast. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III came in second with 21.7 percent of the vote, followed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz with 12.9 percent.

The poll results, released Sunday, are a boost for Madaleno, who has said he plans to run for the Democratic nomination but has not officially declared.

In April, U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) won a straw poll taken in western Maryland during an annual summit of Democratic Party loyalists. Delaney came in fifth in the Anne Arundel County poll with 9.2 percent, behind civil rights activist Ben Jealous, who took 12.5 percent.

Jealous and Baltimore tech entrepreneur Alec Ross are the only Democrats who have formally announced that they will compete for the party’s nomination to challenge popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018.

In addition to Baker, Kamenetz, and Madeleno, others considering the race are former Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler and lawyer James L. Shea.

The primary is next June.

Read the full article for more information.

Ex-NAACP Chief Ben Jealous Announces Candidacy for Maryland Governor

Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, announced his candidacy for Maryland governor Wednesday outside a cousin’s West Baltimore flower shop. Jealous is the third Democrat to formally announce his candidacy in the June 26, 2018, primary, joining high-tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and state Sen. Richard Madeleno. Several other Democrats are either expected to join the race soon or are weighing a run.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Jealous, 44, will seek the Democratic nomination in his first bid for political office. He joins a growing field of potential challengers to Gov. Larry Hogan, who is expected to attempt to become the state’s first two-term Republican governor since the 1950s.

In an interview Tuesday with The Baltimore Sun, Jealous took aim at Hogan’s record on education, the economy and the environment. And he faulted Hogan for failing to take on the Trump administration, comparing the incumbent to the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“He may have strength, but he lacks courage,” Jealous said. Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, declined to comment.

Jealous brings to the campaign a personal story that could differentiate him from the field. He is seeking to become governor of a state where his parents could not legally marry at the time they met in Harlem Park because his father was white and his mother African-American.

Jealous, who lives in Pasadena, was elected president of the Baltimore-based NAACP in 2008 at age 35, becoming the youngest person to head the civil rights organization. He led the group until 2013, the year after he spearheaded the NAACP’s successful campaign to abolish Maryland’s death penalty. During that year’s debate, he was a regular visitor to Annapolis as he lobbied lawmakers to pass Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley’s repeal bill.

When he was NAACP president, Jealous said, he saw how quickly the state can more forward. He pointed to some of the initiatives of the O’Malley administration — including the end of capital punishment, legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing students who are in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities.

Jealous in 2014 joined Kapor Capital, which funds tech startups that work on social justice issues. He is divorced and has two children who live with him part time.

Read the full article for more information.

Montgomery County Sets Up $11M Public Campaign Fund for 2018

The Montgomery County Council approved an $11 million public campaign financing fund — the first in Maryland — for the 2018 elections when it adopted the county’s $5.4 billion budget for fiscal 2018 last Thursday.

According to MarylandReporter,

The new public campaign finance law could be a model for other Maryland counties, such as Howard County, which is considering its own version for local races.

Montgomery’s new law gets mixed reviews.  It is not clear whether the new system will meet its promised goals of keeping special interest money out of campaigns, leveling the playing field for newcomers and increasing voter turnout.

Robin Ficker, a Republican running for county executive, who successfully spearheaded a 2016 petition referendum imposing term limits on the county executive and council members, calls the new program “self-serving.”

Four of the nine councilmembers have already filed to use the fund they set up.

“The tax-increase specialists on the County Council concluded they didn’t have any competition on the Republican side anymore,” Ficker said.  In Montgomery, Democrats enjoy a three-to-one advantage in registered voters over Republicans. “They thought they might as well finance their own campaigns now.”

The new law, which passed unanimously through the all-Democrat, nine-member Council in 2014, will debut for the 2018 elections. It allows qualified candidates participating in the county executive and county council races to receive taxpayer-subsidized funds if they get enough smaller campaign contributions from county residents.

The council provided $1 million more than the request from County Executive Ike Leggett, but that aligned with the recommendation of a county committee reviewing funding.  The Council added $5 million, instead of $4 million, to an existing fund of $6 million, which had been approved in prior budgets.

To qualify for public campaign financing, county executive candidates must collect 500 contributions totaling $40,000; county council at large candidates 250 contributions totaling $20,000; and county council district candidates 125 contributions totaling $10,000.

County executive candidates can receive up to $750,000 for both the primary and general elections; county council at-large candidates, $250,000; and county council district candidates $125,000.

At-Large County Councilmember Marc Elrich, D, who is also running for county executive and planning to use public funding, believes the new system will help reduce special interest money in elections.

“It’s more for the public than anything,” Elrich said. “The candidates are going to have to be largely financed by the public.  The large donors, who have the resources to mount the campaign, are not going to be able to shape it.”

The law prohibits political action committees (PACs), corporations, labor organizations and state and local political committees from contributing to candidates who participate in public campaign financing.  It also caps individual contributions at $150.

“The caveat is public financing doesn’t require everybody to public finance,” Elrich conceded.  “A non-public funded candidate can easily raise more money than [a candidate] with fewer donors. Large donors who have traditionally dominated donations can just create PACs.”

Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, takes the case a step further.

“Public financing won’t have an impact on big money at all,” Eberly said.  “[The U.S. Supreme Court case] Citizens United established that corporations and unions can spend unlimited money independent of a candidate. The research conducted on public finance systems in other states has shown that public financing systems does free candidates from the burden of continually fundraising, but incumbent candidates continue to enjoy a tremendous advantage over competitors.”

Eberly said it is a “false hope” to think candidates won’t be beholden to big donors just because the contributions are not coordinated with their campaigns.  In fact, Eberly said, independent expenditures increased in New York after public financing was introduced.

Both Ficker and Elrich believe new or unknown candidates will never see those types of independent donations.

Rachael Rice, a seasoned Democratic fundraiser who has worked for dozens of Maryland candidates, including former Attorney General Doug Gansler, believes the public funding program will help new candidates.

“Fundraising generally is much easier for incumbents and this new law may change that, depending on how it plays out. ” Rice said.  “I think it will be helpful to challengers because it gives them access to funds that they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Candidates would receive $6 for every $1 of the first $50 raised in the county executive race and $4 for every $1 raised of the first $50 in county council races.  The county matches decrease with every $50 raised.

In Montgomery, candidates participating in public funding have no limit on how much money they can raise in small contributions.  Contributions can also come from outside of the candidate’s district, county and state. But county funds will only be matched to county contributions.

Montgomery County Democratic Party Vice Chair Emily Shetty sees that as an advantage to all voters.

“What we’ve seen in prior [election] cycles is that voters who donate to a candidate are voters who turnout to an election,” Shetty said.  “The matching [contribution] system will incentivize people who have not previously participated.  I think we’ll see increased voter turnout which is in the best interest of democracy.”

Read the full article for more information.