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BALTIMORE -- Maryland held its special election for the 7th District Tuesday. Because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the State Board of Elections and Governor Larry Hogan moved the election to vote by mail with limited in person voting. Maryland PIRG, along with allies, made various recommendations to the State Board of Elections and the governor on how best to run the elections.
Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG, issued the following statement in response:
“In times of crisis, it is critical that we preserve our democracy and maintain faith in our government and institutions. We applaud the Maryland Board of Elections, Governor Hogan, and election workers for setting a strong example for the rest of the country on how to safely run an election during a pandemic. Quickly shifting to universal vote by mail, with limited in person voting, enabled Marylanders to participate in democracy while protecting public health.
“Our November elections may need to be run in a similar manner, so other states should take note of Maryland’s example. We should start preparing now to ensure every eligible voter has an opportunity to safely cast a ballot. In addition to shifting to vote by mail, we should maintain limited in-person voting for voters who need to register, need help voting, or did not receive their ballot. We also need robust public outreach so Marylanders can navigate the new process confidently. And, there are additional measures the state can take to ensure all eligible voters can participate including pre-mailers to confirm voter status, strengthening our online voter registration system, expanding drop boxes, and creating a program to cure ballots that are missing signatures.
“Understandably, in switching to a new election system, there were some issues with the special election, which we have to improve on. Fortunately, with more time to prepare, we should expect an even smoother process in November and look forward to working with the state to get it right.
The Maryland Public Interest Research Group (Maryland PIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.
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