After the Maryland Court of Appeals pushed back the date of the state’s primary election by three weeks, the head of the state’s board of elections has announced a new election timeline.
The primary’s date was delayed because of multiple legal challenges over redistricting boundaries that still need time to be worked out. The new primary date is July 19; it was originally scheduled for June 28.
Other new dates to know:
- The deadline to register to vote is June 28.
- The new deadline to request a mail-in ballot is July 12.
- Early voting will now start July 7 and end on July 14 (and will include Saturday July 9 and Sunday July 10).
Voters interested in serving as election judges can learn more and apply online.
In a statement Monday, Linda Lamone, Maryland State Board of Elections administrator, said the board is working with local boards of election to ensure a smooth rollout of the delayed primary.
“We continue to work with the local boards to review any possible logistical issues resulting from the change to the election calendar, including the availability of early voting centers and election day polling places, recruitment of election judges for early voting and election day, and equipment allocation,” Lamone said in the statement.
After the court decision postponing the primary, Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rushern Baker issued a statement saying he was concerned about the delay.
“I can’t imagine a more inconvenient time to hold an election or an outcome that will cause more confusion for voters,” he said on Twitter. “I’m concerned about the ability for the state and county election boards to secure the personnel necessary to pull off an election in the middle of summer.”
Other candidates said they welcomed the additional time for campaigning.
Voters across Maryland will be weighing in on a number of key races, including crowded primary races for the Democratic and Republican nominations for governor, as well as local races.
Logistical ripple effects
The primary pushback could have unexpected logistical ripple effects as county workers responsible for running elections are forced to shift plans.
Speaking during an online briefing with reporters Monday, Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz said shifting the primary deeper into the summer poses some logistical challenges the county is working to remediate.
For instance, a few county recreation centers that are typically used as early voting sites are expected to already be booked up with summer camps in July.
“Now that this is being pushed to July, that will likely displace some number of camps that are carried out in those facilities,” Albornoz said.
Judy Stiles, with the recreation department, said most locations can share space with polling places and arrangements are being worked out for three other locations, in Germantown, Damascus and White Oak.
Albornoz said he’s also concerned the later date could depress voter turnout because more people will likely be on vacation.
That could also come into play with finding election workers.
“It does make it more challenging,” said Alysoun McLaughlin, acting election director for Montgomery County. Still, the date change could mean more freed-up schedules for some workers.
“But it certainly is a shift for everyone to plan around,” she said.
It’s not just the shift to later in the summer that makes recruiting election judges a challenge — it’s the fact that this is a gubernatorial election year rather than a presidential election when awareness is much higher.
She added, “We hope that civic commitment that we saw in the presidential general election last fall will carry forward and that the enthusiasm will be there for voters to sign up and serve at the polls … We have a very committed, enthusiastic civic voter base. But we are in a pinch this year, and so we’re really eager to get all of the engagement we can from all generations,” she said.
Gilberto Zelaya, public information officer for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, urged residents to make sure they’re registered to vote and to make sure their voter registration is up to date.
“Whether you have an interest in making sure the process works, whether you have curiosity” said Zelaya, the Board of Elections is also eager to have people sign up to work during the Maryland primary.
Zelaya said the Board of Elections looks to fill about 3,500 judges and said, “In 2020 we actually had a standby list”. Asked how many election judges have been hired so far, Zelaya said the situation is “very fluid” and that he didn’t have an up-to-date number.
Zelaya explained you can vote by mail, you can vote early, or you can vote on election day, July 19. “You have three options, but you only can vote once. Make a plan,” Zelaya said.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.