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Late Mail-in Ballots Jeopardize MD Primary Election

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Thousands of Marylanders still haven't received mail-in ballots, just four days away from the state's June 2 presidential primary election. (Adobe Stock)
Thousands of Marylanders still haven't received mail-in ballots, just four days away from the state's June 2 presidential primary election. (Adobe Stock)
May 29, 2020

BALTIMORE - Delays of mail-in ballots from Maryland's Board of Elections are threatening the statewide presidential primary on Tuesday, according to voting-rights activists.

Folks in parts of Baltimore and Montgomery County still haven't received their ballots for the June 2 election, which was rescheduled from April because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Joanne Antoine - executive director of Common Cause Maryland - says a coalition this week requested Board of Elections officials to add more in-person vote centers, and increase the number of days they're open, to compensate for the late ballots.

"We know that when we're looking at research in other states, you want to expand the number of in-person options that are available," says Antoine. "And we certainly could have opened these vote centers starting this weekend, into Election Day, to help address any problems that might happen."

Election officials blamed the mailing error on an out-of-state vendor. Voters can still print out ballots at home and mail them to the Board of Elections.

For more information on casting a ballot, look online at ' elections.maryland.gov .'

Baltimore's mayor, city council and all eight of Maryland's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs in next Tuesday's election. Antoine says the ballot problems in Baltimore could have serious implications in a critical election for an African-American-majority city with large pockets of poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

"We take no position on who's elected," says Antoine. "We know that, again, when you're disenfranchising voters it could change the overall results that we see in the city. "And we expect that many of those candidates would be calling for recounts and so forth."

Many of the missing ballots are in Baltimore's 7th Congressional District, which just recently held a special election to replace Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings. That vote also had problems, when thousands of mail-in ballots were not counted because they were either postmarked after the due date or the voter didn't sign the back of the envelope.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD