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Campaign 2020

Politicsby Fern Shen8:12 amMay 18, 20200

Baltimore’s primary ballots are coming, state elections board says

Above: A ballot for the 2020 Maryland primary mailed to a Harford County voter. As of today, most Baltimore city residents hadn’t received theirs. (Maryland State Board of Elections)

Baltimore City voters wondering why 2020 primary ballots have not yet arrived got an answer last night – the Maryland State Board of Elections only began mailing them last Thursday, one week later than they were scheduled to do so.

Election officials had promised that ballots for Maryland’s mail-only June 2 election would be sent out to registered voters by May 8, but the state disclosed in a Sunday evening email that they were not mailed by that date.

Some in the city were already voicing suspicion of voter suppression when ballots began turning up in other Maryland jurisdictions last week, but not in heavily Democratic Baltimore.

Now several city officials are calling out state election board officials explicitly.

City Council President Brandon M. Scott last night said the mailing delay “endangers the voting rights of the people of Baltimore and seems to be part of a pattern that began in the 7th District Special Primary when 20,367 ballots were never delivered to Baltimore City residents.”

He called for the election board to hold a meeting no later than tomorrow to address “this emergency and update Baltimore voters on the status of their ballots.”

Roger Hartley, dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore, added to the chorus of complaints.

“Huge problem for turnout and vote count with a shorter window of time and confusion,” he said this morning on Twitter.

“The State Board of Elections is going to spend the next year in litigation,” Andy Ellis, co-chair of the Maryland Green Party, predicted on Twitter.

Previous Problems

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, state officials had re-scheduled the April 28 primary to June 2, decreeing in an unprecedented move that it would be almost entirely conducted by mail.

Voters in Harford County and elsewhere in Maryland received their ballots during the first week of May – but with an erroneous date printed on them, prompting concern about voter confusion.

(The ballots carried the original April 28 date, but came with instructions that explained the true date was June 2.)

Deputy Elections Administrator Nikki Charlson said there was no time to print up new ballots after the primary date had been changed.

Yet another foul-up was identified with the April 28 special election to fill the 7th District Congressional vacancy left by the death of Elijah Cummings.

An audit revealed that some people who requested an absentee ballot were not sent one.

With election officials in Annapolis saying city voters should be receiving their ballots this week, most Baltimore residents will have less than a two-week window to vote.

Ballots must be completed, signed and postmarked by June 2. The ballots have been pre-paid, so no postage is required.

Voters also can drop ballots off in boxes that will be offered in each of Maryland’s 24 counties. They must be dropped off by 8 p.m.

Voters who are unable to fill out the mail ballots because of a disability or who do not receive them by mail will be allowed to vote at in-person voting centers located across the state.

For a list of Vote Centers and Ballot Drop-off Locations go HERE.

Request a Ballot

If you do not receive your ballot in the mail, you can submit a ballot request to absentee.SBE@maryland.gov. Or call 1-800-222-8683.

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