In response to the State of Emergency due to COVID-19, Governor Hogan made the right decision to shift our June primary to vote-by-mail to ensure Marylanders could safely participate in the election. Now, we're calling on Governor Hogan to move November's election to vote-by-mail and expand in person and early voting options.
Today, Maryland PIRG joined Common Cause Maryland, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, ACLU of Maryland, Disability Right Maryland, and Rev. Kobi Little to send a letter to Governor Hogan calling on him to instruct the State Board of Elections (SBE) to mail every active voter a ballot and expand in person and early voting options
Most Maryland voters were able to safely participate in the June primaries through vote-by-mail, and we saw increased participation in Baltimore and across the state. However, the very short timeline to shift to a new voting process as well as an insufficient number of in-person voting options led to numerous avoidable problems. The Governor and the SBE should learn from those mistakes, but one thing is clear: in order to protect Marylanders’ right to safely participate in democracy, we must start planning and preparing for the November election today.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, we cannot assume it will be safe to run our November elections with predominantly in-person voting. We do know that delaying the decision will jeopardize SBE’s ability to run a safe, secure and efficient election process, and could lead to even more problems than those experienced in the Primary Election.
Vote-by-mail is a safe, secure way for eligible voters to participate in elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as was clear from the June primary, we need in person voting options for people who are unable to vote by mail because they need assistance, need to register to vote, or did not receive their ballot.
Maryland PIRG and our voting rights allies have a series of suggestions to ensure our elections are accessible and secure, but the most important thing the Governor can do now is to instruct the State Board of Elections (SBE) to mail every active voter a ballot and expand in person and early voting options.