December 14, 2023
At the MACo Winter Conference, an expert panel explored innovative policies and new solutions to advance and promote free, fair, safe, and secure elections.
An essential function of Maryland’s county governments is to fund and oversee elections. However, some laws and policies fail to recognize modern trends in voter preference, the capabilities of new technologies, and the realities of administering elections in our local communities.
With modern trends in voter preference, new technology, difficulties recruiting and retaining election judges, threats and intimidation from hostile actors, new and evolving cyber threats, and defending against a constant stream of disinformation, the 2024 election cycle is top of mind for county leaders and state and local election officials alike.
Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan led the conversation and moderated an informative Q&A at the “2024 Elections and Beyond…” session at the MACo Winter Conference.
Panel speakers included:
- Katherine Berry, Deputy Administrator, State Board of Elections
- Ruie Lavoie, Director, Baltimore County Board of Elections
- Benjamin Hovland, Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission
- David Garreis, Director, Anne Arundel County Board of Elections
Commissioner Hovland started the session by discussing national election trends, challenges, and opportunities. Commissioner Hovland also talked about the challenge for Maryland with its chosen format (essentially running three elections), how AI could impact elections, and explained why local election administrators and personnel are increasingly worried about showing up to work.
Katherine Berry discussed the legislation the State Board of Elections plans to bring forward in the 2024 session and how new SBE leadership is taking a more “hands-on” approach and prioritizing communication with local boards of elections and county government partners. Berry also discussed the fight against disinformation and misinformation and provided perspective on what’s ahead for election policy in Maryland.
David Garreis discussed the continued challenges with recruiting and retaining election judges, dangerous threats against election officials and staff, anti-doxing legislation, and challenges with a growing number of “First Amendment auditors.”
Ruie Lavoie discussed continued funding challenges, working with the State Board to ensure continued transparency, efforts to ensure timely and accurate results, new and evolving cyber threats, and advocated for proper funding to prepare for the 2024 election and beyond.
The session was on December 7 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland.