I strongly agree with the op-ed commentary by Sen. Paul Pinsky (“Governor Hogan chooses ‘electoral chaos’ in November,” July 10) regarding Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to hold a normal, fully-staffed General Election in Maryland’s 1,992 election precincts. This decision, as Senator Pinsky notes, goes against the recommendation of all of Maryland’s 24 local election boards, as well as respected civic organizations that traditionally promote citizen engagement in the election process.
Yes, there were some complications and mistakes at the local and state level due in large measure to the extraordinary nature of the challenges facing those responsible for conducting the primary election during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Both the local and state boards of election have learned from these mistakes and would be better prepared in November if the Governor allowed mail-in ballots to be sent to all duly registered voters. However, by first requiring each voter to apply for a mail-in ballot (likely to be a record number) that the local boards would need to process imposes an additional administrative, staffing and cost burden on the local boards. It also needlessly complicates the process for Maryland voters.
These are extraordinary times and the governor should do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of the voters and the staff and poll workers involved in conducting the election. What perplexes me is that to his credit he took decisive action early on to ensure Marylanders complied with the recommendations of federal and state health officials to protect us from the threat of COVID-19, but in this case he has ignored the election experts and put both the voters and election personnel at risk while likely suppressing voter participation.
Robert L. Walker, Pasadena
The writer is the former chairman of the Maryland State Board of Elections.
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