The League of Women Voters of Maryland is springing into action, in response to the Governor’s July 8th order to the State Board of Elections to carry out a traditional election process this November, while also mailing every active registered voter an absentee ballot request form. This decision runs contrary to the advice of local election officials who reported that many election judges have already declined to serve due to concerns about COVID-19. Election officials also noted the additional administrative costs and potential delays caused by the processing of absentee ballot request forms, and recommended that ballots be mailed to voters to ensure a safer and more seamless process. This will unfortunately create challenges for voters and poll workers — chief among them the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at in-person polling places.
Regardless of our views about this policy choice, our highest priority now is to support voters with the information they need to successfully and safely obtain and cast their ballots.
Here is our 2020 Election Protection Plan:
Voter Empowerment — As we have done for the past 100 years, we will continue to empower voters by providing them with unbiased nonpartisan candidate and ballot issue information via our trusted Voters’ Guides, Vote411.org, and candidate forums.
Advocacy — LWVMD will continue to advocate for the safety of poll workers and voters in coordination with a broad coalition of voting rights groups – Everyone Votes Maryland.
Accountability — We will continue to monitor and communicate with the State Board of Elections to ensure every voter’s needs are considered as this election plan progresses.
Grassroots Coordination — 15 local LWVs throughout the state will continue to collaborate on the ground in their communities and provide critical election resources and information.
While we are ready to provide Marylanders with the tools they need to participate in our democracy in November, we remain concerned that this decision leaves us open to the possibility of another emergency shift in the election process should there be a second wave of widespread COVID-19 cases in Maryland in the fall.
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