In the June 2nd primary Maryland took the bold step of enabling all registered voters to cast a ballot by mail. However, we saw many issues related to voter access and transparency in the election system that could undermine voters’ trust. LWVMD calls upon the Governor and our election administrators to take the necessary steps to prevent the same issues from recurring in November and maintain voters’ confidence in our democratic system.
Planning for the November general election needs to start immediately, and resources must be allocated to do it right. LWVMD is advocating for the following:
*Declare without delay that the General Election be conducted principally by mail. It is not clear that the current health and safety concerns will be resolved by November. Voters must have this safe option and election officials need to know now what kind of election they will be implementing.
* Improve ballot delivery and confirm accuracy for all Maryland voters. No voter should sit out an election because the wrong ballot was mailed to them or it was received too late. Election administrators must conduct a thorough analysis of the Primary and improve the mailing process and verify the accurate ballot for every voter.
* Establish a reliable cure process for ballots marked for rejection. If election administrators find a mistake or discrepancy in a voter’s ballot, that voter must be notified and given an accessible opportunity to cure it.
* Engage a community based task force with connections to hard to reach populations. Use them to provide guidance on alternative means to educate voters who were not reached during the primary election and provide feedback on such issues as ballot drop-box placement.
* Ensure transparency in the ballot counting process. Voters must have assurance that their ballot is counted securely and fairly.
* Implement a robust staffing plan for election board call centers and email support centers. LWVMD and other partners reported people were experiencing sometimes hours-long wait times on the phone or waiting days for email responses when reaching out with questions. All citizens should be able to gain quick and easy access to the information they need to cast their ballot.
No voter should be disenfranchised by a problem-ridden election. By implementing these changes, Maryland officials can re-establish voters’ confidence in our electoral system.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.