Maryland Gov. Hogan wants answers on election plans

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has fired off a letter to Board of Elections administrator Linda Lamone, giving her 48 hours to explain how the board will execute plans for an in-person election Nov. 3.

Among the things Hogan demanded to know: why absentee ballot applications haven’t been mailed yet.

Hogan had directed the state board to carry out an in-person election, with early voting and all polling places open on Election Day, along with absentee ballot applications sent out to all eligible voters on July 8.

In his letter to Lamone, Hogan called the June 2 primary an “unmitigated disaster” and referenced the thousands of ballots that either went to the wrong address, were received late or not at all.

“I directed you to promptly mail applications to every single Maryland registered voter,” Hogan wrote to Lamone. “It has been 26 days and you have failed to take this action.”

Hogan demanded that an accounting of the board’s plans be presented to the Board of Public Works, the Secretary of State, the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly and the public.

In a tweet Monday evening, Senate President Bill Ferguson suggested that time could be saved by taking a look at the July 30 letter from Lamone and the State Board of Elections to Ferguson and Sen. Paul Pinsky.

In that letter, Lamone gave a task-by-task timeline of what would be done and by when, including the mailing of absentee ballots on Aug. 28.

“We continue working on all aspects of preparation for the November election and will continue to provide the requested periodic updates and reports,” Lamone also wrote.

While local Boards of Elections officials have said they’ve experienced difficulty in recruiting election judges and polling place staff for Nov. 3, Hogan said in his letter that the state “is going to great lengths” to assist in staffing polling places by getting state employees and students at state colleges and universities to work.

Hogan also expressed alarm at plans by some jurisdictions to consolidate polling places on Election Day because they can’t staff them all. The governor said that could lead to disenfranchising voters.

The state’s elections board will meet Wednesday, when it is expected members will review and approve the format of the absentee ballot applications.

Afterward, the forms will be sent out for printing, and by Aug. 28, the applications and the accompanying prepaid return envelopes will be sent out.

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