Maryland’s top elections official responded Tuesday to a blistering letter from the governor by outlining the steps being taken to carry out November’s vote.
Maryland State Board of Elections Director wrote to Gov. Larry Hogan that her staff is working “closely and diligently” with local elections boards to plan for the general election.
Hogan ordered on July 8 that the general election be held with regular, in-person Election Day voting and early voting centers open. He also directed elections officials to mail applications for absentee ballots to voters.
The Republican governor has expressed frustration that the absentee ballot applications have not yet been mailed and that several counties are considering consolidating polling places due to staffing shortages.
Lamone did not address Hogan’s criticisms in her response.
Local elections officials had preferred having ballots mailed to voters, plus a limited number of in-person polling sites, similar to how the June 2 primary election was held. They’ve said that Hogan is setting them up to fail by requiring full, in-person operations in the midst of a pandemic.
In her response to the governor, Lamone wrote that absentee ballot applications would be mailed out to the more than 4 million eligible voters starting Aug. 24, and all would be sent no later than Aug. 28.
The five-member, bipartisan Maryland State Board of Elections is scheduled to approve the wording on the mailings Wednesday, which will be followed by providing the application and voter data to the printing and mailing vendor. The vendor must provide proofs to the state for approval before the mailing can proceed.
Lamone said her staff is also looking for a “data center” to help process what she expects will be an influx of absentee ballot applications.
At Wednesday’s Maryland State Board of Elections meeting, board members also will consider proposals from several counties to consolidate voting locations.