State Director, Maryland PIRG
State Director, Maryland PIRG
MONTGOMERY COUNTY – Md. Today, Montgomery County Judge Bonifant ruled in favor of a petition put forward by the Maryland State Board of Elections to enable pre-processing of mail-in ballots for the November general elections. Common Cause Maryland, the ACLU of Maryland, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Maryland PIRG, on behalf of the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition offered congratulations to the State Board of Elections on their successful legal bid to ensure timely election results in the aftermath of the November general elections.
Earlier this year, Governor Hogan’s vetoed legislation enabling processing of mail-in ballots before Election Day. The legislation was crafted to ensure that canvassing of mail-in ballots could begin before Election Day instead of the Thursday after the election as current law states. In his veto message for SB 163/HB 862, Hogan said “Early canvassing of absentee ballots would allow hard working election officials to get a much needed head start on the deluge of ballot envelopes that, under current law, must wait until after Election Day for processing.” But his veto meant this could not happen.
On September 5th, the State Board of Elections filed a petition with the Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking a judicial order to suspend the state law that prohibits the opening of any mail-in ballot envelope before the Wednesday after the election and requesting that the court permit local election boards to begin processing mail ballots on October 1st.
In response, members of the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition issued the following statements:
“Every voter deserves and expects to receive election results in a timely manner,” said Common Cause Maryland policy and engagement manager Morgan Drayton. “That’s why Governor Hogan’s unexpected, eleventh-hour veto of legislation to prevent future delays is frustrating for voters and election workers alike. We know Marylanders across all political parties are united in support of the State Board of Elections’ decisive action to ensure the November election produces timely results.”
“The ACLU of Maryland strongly supports the State Board’s common-sense plan to bring Maryland into alignment with other states across the country by permitting county election boards to process mail-in ballots as they are received,” said Deborah Jeon, Legal Director for the ACLU of Maryland. “We can’t let baseless conspiracy theories and racist attempts at voter suppression undermine our state’s ability to conduct elections in an equitable and efficient manner.”
“Gov. Hogan threw out the baby with the bathwater when he vetoed the commonsense bill to enable pre-processing of ballots, which could lead to serious delays in election certification,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “We applaud the State Board of Elections for supporting this legal action with unanimous, bipartisan support and congratulate them in their successful efforts to speed up election results for the benefit of all Marylanders.”
“We thank the State Board of Elections for their tireless efforts to ensure that Maryland voters can rely on their state’s election process,” said League of Women Voters of Maryland Executive Director Nikki Tyree. “Not allowing election practices that ensure integrity and voter confidence in elections further stokes misplaced fear of election fraud and disinformation.”
Everyone Votes Maryland is a nonpartisan coalition of national, state, and grassroots organizations dedicated to ensuring that all eligible Marylanders can have their voices heard on Election Day. Together, we have enhanced the mail-in voting process and expanded access to voter registration through automatic voter registration and same-day registration.