The vice chairman of the Maryland State Board of Elections spoke out Thursday about any potential efforts to influence or intimidate voters ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.
President Donald Trump has consistently talked about voter fraud, and at the debate last week, urged people to go to polling centers to monitor proceedings and “watch very carefully.”
That led Board of Elections vice chair Patrick “PJ” Hogan to speak about any attempts to do something like that in Maryland, which he said toward the end of Thursday’s board meeting, has “a tradition of efficient, accurate, secure elections.”
Citing what he called “a unique time” in politics, Hogan reminded the board of the state’s election laws — in particular, the laws protecting people trying to cast a vote, whether it’s to influence who that person votes for, or if they vote at all.
“They may not influence or attempt to influence a voter’s decision whether to go to the polls to cast a vote through the use of fraud, force, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery reward or offered reward,” Hogan said.
“And they may not engage in conduct that results, or has the intent to result in the denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race, color or disability.”
Maryland laws are already strict about who can observe the voting process, and those guidelines will likely be adhered to even more closely because of the pandemic and the need to keep excess people out of indoor polling places.
Election observers have to be registered with election boards, and once inside a polling place, are prohibited from interacting with anyone there to vote.
Under state law, there must be good reason to believe a person isn’t who they claim to be in order to a challenge that person’s right to vote.