Statement: Gov. Hogan calls for more in-person voting in November, stops short of sending mail-in ballots

Media Contacts
Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Emily Scarr

State Director, Maryland PIRG; Director, Stop Toxic PFAS Campaign, PIRG

Statement from Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG

BALTIMORE — Gov. Larry Hogan called Wednesday for a “normal” November election, including opening every polling location and early voting center. The governor said the state would also mail all eligible voters an application for an absentee ballot. 

These plans differ from those set out for the June primary election, when Gov. Hogan instructed the State Board of Elections to send all eligible voters a mail-in ballot. Elections staff also  managed in-person vote centers on Election Day, and placed ballot drop boxes throughout the state.

Along with voting rights allies, Maryland PIRG sent a letter to Gov. Hogan in June recommending he mail all eligible voters a ballot for the November election in addition to expanding in-person voting for early voting and on Election Day.

In response to the governor’s announcement, Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr issued the following statement:

“When it comes to holding elections during the COVID-19 crisis, we should err on the side of caution. The governor made the right call by keeping more polling places open to reduce crowding for those who need to vote in-person, but the decision not to mail voters their ballots is wrong. This would have ensured the safest voting option for the most Marylanders.

“Mailing applications to vote by mail adds unnecessary bureaucracy for voters and elections staff, who are already stretched thin. It would have been more efficient to mail ballots to voters like the state did in June. 

“We encourage all voters who are able to vote by mail to request a mail-in ballot. Voting by mail is a safe, secure way for eligible voters to participate in elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maryland PIRG and our voting rights allies will keep doing everything we can to make sure all eligible voters can safely participate in the November elections. We’re calling on the State to conduct robust public education to encourage voters to update their registrations and request mail-in ballots, dramatically increase support for local elections staff to process absentee requests, and to ensure all elections workers have proper personal protective equipment. 

“We look forward to working with the Governor and State Board of Elections to ensure a safe and accessible election.“