Presidential primary in Md. should be through the mail, election leaders say

Maryland election leaders are recommending that the state cancel in-person voting for the state’s presidential primary.

The primary was already delayed from April 28 to June 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the State Board of Elections says more needs to be done to protect voters and poll workers because there is no telling where the pandemic may be a few months from now.

“No way should we jeopardize the lives of anyone for the right to vote,” said Board of Elections member Malcolm Funn.

The board held a meeting Wednesday during which all five members participated over the phone.

“How many people will we actually have to staff the polls?” asked Board Chairman Michael Cogan. “We’re going to have people simply resigning rather than going into a situation where they could become infected.”

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Under the board’s recommendations, ballots would be mailed out to the state’s four million voters ahead of the June 2 primary.

Voters would then mail the ballots back or drop them off at locations that have yet to be determined.

The board is still working to finalize its recommendations and is expected to do so by early next week.

“I don’t believe that the statues adequately provide for this type of situation,” Cogan said, noting the extraordinary circumstances board members find themselves in.

It is not clear whether Gov. Larry Hogan would support canceling in-person voting for the primary, but he did make a similar decision with one particular election that is set for next month.

Hogan ordered the April 28 election for the 7th Congressional District seat held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings to be a vote-by-mail election. Cummings, a Democrat, served for more than 20 years in Congress.

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