June 2, 2022
Written by Alicia Abelson
Maryland State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery County, called on Gov. Larry Hogan to declare a state of emergency before the state’s primary election, to address what she calls an “impending electoral crisis.”
Kagan wrote a letter to the Republican governor Wednesday, days after he vetoed two election-related bills passed by the Maryland General Assembly in its 2022 legislative session.
Kagan said the local boards of election are struggling with “unprecedented challenges,” citing the delayed approval of Maryland’s redistricting map, a rescheduled primary election day and U.S. Postal Service mail delays. His vetoes could cause delays in reporting election results and possible issues in printing ballots in a shorter timeline between elections, she said.
“I am hopeful that you will act quickly so that we don’t become the next national mockery for our maddening delays in knowing who our legislative and executive leaders will be,” Kagan wrote.
House Bill 862 would have allowed voters who forgot to sign their mail-in ballots to do so after submission and give local boards of election the ability to preprocess mail-in ballots before Election Day.
Senate Bill 163, which was sponsored by Kagan, proposed allowing early canvassing of absentee ballots. Under current state law, ballot canvassing is allowed two days after election days. According to Kagan, a state of emergency would allow canvassing to begin eight days before the start of early voting.
“Late reporting of results could provoke unfounded cynicism and doubt,” Kagan wrote. “We watched as conspiracy theorists inspected machines and ballots in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and elsewhere. This is not the way that our elections should attract national attention.”
Hogan vetoed both bills on Friday, stating in his veto letter that while they offer positive changes to Maryland election laws, they do not address election security concerns.
“While this legislation allows a voter to provide a missing signature by one of several ways — including in person, mail, email and text — it remains silent on basic security measures such as signature verification — with Maryland being one of only nine states that does not conduct signature verification — and does nothing to address ballot collection,” Hogan wrote.
A Maryland Matters report said it is likely that Hogan’s vetoes will stick without any override. Because it is an election year, the 2023 legislature cannot override a veto of legislation passed in the previous session. The 2022 legislative session ended on April 11.
The Maryland primary is scheduled for July 19.