Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler formally filed paperwork to run for governor Thursday, using the occasion to lament low voter turnout and push a new proposal to expand early voting to include the Saturday before elections.
Gansler and his running mate Del. Jolene Ivey said they chose to file Thursday for its symbolism - the 50th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that abolished poll taxes in national elections.
In a web video released Thursday morning, Gansler and Ivey said that modern life makes it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day and the state should let people vote on the weekend immediately before it.
“On this historic day, we’re reminded that there’s still work to be done to protect voting rights here in Maryland,” said Gansler, a Montgomery County Democrat and former state’s attorney.
The state’s current early voting period runs from Thursday to Thursday the week before an election, which includes a Saturday but not the one immediately preceding an the election.
“Voting needs to be easier, not harder,” said Ivey, a Prince George’s County Democrat. “It’s a right, and we want to make sure you have a right to exercise that right.”
Gansler is the final declared candidate to file for the hotly contested Democratic primary race to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley.
Lt. Governor Anthony Brown filed this summer; Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County filed in December.
This week, Rep. John Delaney stoked speculation he would join the race before the Feb. 25 filing deadline, but he has not declared his candidacy. A second congressman, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, announced this week he would not run for governor.