Md. gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin files suit in primary ballot battle

FILE -- Valerie Ervin, right, announces her bid to run for governor on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the Maryland State Board of Elections in Annapolis, Md. Ervin was the running mate of Kevin Kamenetz, a Maryland gubernatorial candidate who died suddenly last week. Ervin chose Marisol Johnson, left, as her running mate, describing her as an immigrant from El Salvador who owns a small business, was a former Baltimore County school board member, and is a mother of four. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

WASHINGTON —  Maryland Democrat Valerie Ervin, who decided to run for governor after her running mate died suddenly, has filed suit to get the Maryland State Board of Elections to change the ballot.

After Ervin’s running mate, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, died of a heart attack, Ervin announced she’d run for governor in his place, but the Maryland State Board of Elections said it was too late to change the ballot in time for the June primary.

Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator at the State Board of Elections, said it was not only too late to reprint the ballot, but that the cost — more than $2 million — was prohibitive.

The board has also said that getting the correct type of paper for the ballots is a challenge since only one contractor could provide the type of paper needed. There was no way that the contractor that provides the paper for the ballots could fill an order before the June primary, the board added.

Ervin’s lawyer, Mariana Cordier, filed the suit in Anne Arundel County. Cordier said the state board’s decision not to reprint the ballot poses a serious problem for the election process.

“It affects the integrity of an election if the voters are not aware of or do not have accurate information as to who they can vote for — who they can ultimately choose,” Cordier said.

Cordier disputed the argument that there is only one source for the paper needed for reprinting the ballots. “The paper is not all that special,” said Cordier, who added that Ervin’s legal team has located an expert on the topic and that there are other sources for the ballot paper.

“The paper argument, I think, is a red herring,” Cordier said. “I don’t know why it’s such an issue to reprint.”

The Board of Elections issued a statement May 24 saying that local boards would be directed to post notice of the change of Ervin’s status as a candidate for governor, and that votes cast for Kamenetz would be counted for the Ervin campaign. The same notice said that elections judges would also be instructed on how to inform voters of the change.

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