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Complaints Soar Over Maryland Primary-Election Breakdowns

Some Maryland residents didn't receive their mail-in ballots in time for the state's mail-in primary election last week. (Adobe Stock)
Some Maryland residents didn't receive their mail-in ballots in time for the state's mail-in primary election last week. (Adobe Stock)
June 10, 2020

BALTIMORE -- As votes continue to be counted a week after Maryland's mail-in primary election, voting-rights groups are voicing concerns about glitches that disrupted the process.

The city of Baltimore has seen major delays in tallying ballots because of what elections administrators call a "proofing error," according to Lois Hybl, co-president of the Maryland League of Women Voters. She pointed out other problems, too, from mail-in ballots arriving late and malfunctioning call centers to long lines at ballot boxes.

Most worrisome, she said, is that some ballots were disqualified because they lacked a signature or other information.

"One thing that's on our list of things is having what we call a 'reliable cure' process for ballots," she said. "If they're marked for rejection and election aSdministrators find a mistake or a discrepancy in the voter's ballot, that voter could be notified and given an opportunity to correct it."

Maryland's congressional delegation, including Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sen. Ben Cardin, both Democrats, joined a slew of bipartisan state officials calling for an outside review of the problem-plagued election.

Tierra Bradford, policy manager for Common Cause Maryland, said it's urgent to correct the issues surrounding the primary by Election Day in November. She said officials don't want people to lose faith in the voting system.

"Voting is very important, it impacts our democracy overall," she said. "When you continue to have glitches and issues with the system, it makes people want to be less civically engaged. That's certainly not what we want in our elections."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has asked Linda Lamone, head of the state Board of Elections, to complete a full post-election report by July 3. He also wants the General Assembly to hold oversight hearings on how to prevent similar problems in November.

The Maryland League of Women Voters' statement is online at lwvmd.org.

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

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD