June 2, 2022
LAUREL, Md. — A Democratic Maryland state senator said there is still time for the governor to declare a state of emergency to prevent an election disaster.
Earlier this week, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed two emergency bills that State House Democrats said would have ensured smooth elections in 2022.
Montgomery County Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-District 17, said a crisis is coming if no action is taken, citing historic increases in requests for mail-in and internet-delivered ballots.
Kagan said she sent a letter Wednesday to the governor, asking him to declare a state of emergency before the primary election on July 19 to address what she calls Maryland’s “impending electoral crisis.”
“Unless the governor acts, don’t expect to see election results on election night — either July 19 or Nov. 8. We won’t know unless there’s a blowout in every single campaign. It’s not going to happen,” Kagan said. “We need Gov. Hogan to help fix the problem that he’s created.”
Earlier this week, the governor vetoed emergency legislation Kagan authored that would have allowed local elections officials to begin opening and counting mail-in ballots eight days before Primary Election Day proper.
“I have talked to a lot of people about this, and we are hopeful that he will act,” Kagan said.
But the governor’s office said the election bills passed by Democrats fell short by failing to improve basic election security, like ballot collection and signature verifications.
“We’ve got to make sure that they get their ballots in time and we are setting them up to fail,” Kagan said.
Kagan told 11 News on Thursday there’s still time for the governor to use his executive powers, especially considering the existing headwinds, including:
- The primary election date was delayed due to court battles over redistricting.
- There are continued postal service delivery problems.
- More Marylanders are voting by mail.
“The primary was shifted from June to July, which means a month less time between the primary and the general election,” Kagan said. “I would expect more than half a million people to vote by mail, and none of those ballots can be started to be counted until Thursday morning after Election Day, according to current law.”
WBAL-TV 11 News reached out to the governor’s office about Kagan’s call for a state of emergency. In response, 11 News received a statement from gubernatorial spokesman Mike Ricci, who said: “The governor strongly supports early voting, voting by mail and early canvassing — all of which was important during the 2020 election — but unfortunately Sen. Kagan overreached and put our successful approach at risk. The Legislature just dropped the ball on this one.”