April 13, 2022
Written by Kevin Kinnally
The segments below provide a brief overview of MACo’s work in the area of elections in the 2022 General Assembly.
Counties administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers every two years. MACo routinely advocates against state policies that result in costly or burdensome implementation for local election officials.
The unique circumstances surrounding the 444th legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. Yet, despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members.
MACo Election Initiative
The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) supported SB 158 / HB 35. This bill addresses a priority initiative of Maryland’s 24 county jurisdictions. It clarifies and codifies the 20-year precedent that governs the funding responsibility between the State and counties for voting machines and related systems.
SB 158 / HB 35 – Election Law – Uniform Statewide Voting Systems – Cost Sharing, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Julie Palakovich Carr, passed the General Assembly and became law without the governor’s signature.
MACo supported SB 163 with amendments. This bill provides local boards of elections with necessary and reasonable flexibility to canvass mail-in ballots, avoiding administrative complications that could disrupt the timely certification of election results. MACo requested technical amendments to clarify specified definitions and processes. Senator Cheryl Kagan’s bill, SB 163 Election Law – Ballots – Processing and Reporting Procedures passed the General Assembly (with MACo’s amendments) and awaits the Governor’s signature.
MACo opposed HB 538. This bill required each early voting center to be open for three additional days for each primary and general election. MACo did not raise policy objections with this goal – county concerns were merely practical and cost-driven. HB 538 – Voters’ Rights Protection Act of 2022 did not advance in the 2022 session.
MACo opposed HB 619. This bill would have mandated that local boards of elections establish voting precincts in any continuing care retirement community that requests a separate polling place for its residents. The bill would have placed a substantial administrative and cost burden on local boards of elections, whose functions are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bill represented an unfunded mandate on local governments. HB 619 Election Law – Polling Places at Continuing Care Retirement Communities did not advance n the 2022 session.
MACo supported HB 327 with amendments. This bill would have required local boards of elections to compensate each election judge at least $200 per day for each day of service on election day and during each early voting period. This bill would have placed a substantial cost burden on local boards of elections, whose functions are supported by county funding. Without state resources to offset these potentially large costs, the bill represented an unfunded mandate on local governments. MACo did not raise policy objections with this goal – county concerns were merely practical and cost-driven. MACo proposed an amendment to avoid a substantial unfunded mandate on local governments. HB 327 Elections – Election Judges – Minimum Compensation did not advance in the 2022 session.
Public Campaign Financing
MACo supported HB 488. This bill would have expanded the offices for which a county may establish a system of public campaign financing. This legislation properly left the decision for establishing a system of public campaign financing in the hands of the local governments, who are best situated to determine whether such a policy is in their best interest. HB 488 Local Public Campaign Financing – Expansion to Additional Offices did not advance in the 2022 session.