ANNAPOLIS, MD—With 118 days until the November general election, and given that the State Board of Elections has not yet provided a recommendation on how to conduct the election, Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday directed the Board to follow existing state law and conduct the election with enhanced voting options in light of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Every early voting center should be open and every polling location should be open on Election Day to accommodate anyone who wishes to cast their ballot safely and in person.
- To ensure that every Marylander who wants to vote by mail can vote by mail, SBE should promptly send out an absentee ballot request application to every eligible Maryland voter.
- Every effort should be made to promote early voting, absentee voting by mail, and voting at off-peak times as safe and efficient options.
“The fundamental responsibility of the State Board of Elections is to conduct free and fair elections in a manner that facilitates maximum voter participation,” wrote Governor Hogan. “This approach—which is already fully authorized by existing state law—will maximize participation in the November election by offering voters more options while minimizing confusion and risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition, the governor informed SBE that the state will encourage state employees to help supplement election staffing needs, and provide any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Polling places should follow CDC guidelines and public health protocols, and stress the importance of proper sanitization, physical distancing, and face coverings.
The governor urged the Board to avoid a politicized process as it moves forward.
“While I know you have been inundated with suggestions from political leaders in both parties and special interest groups to change the electoral process, this discussion should not be subject to undue partisanship or political influence,” wrote Governor Hogan. “Providing citizens with accessible, accountable, and transparent ways to cast their ballot is an essential component of our democratic republic and your primary responsibility.”