A Democrat running for Maryland governor is asking a judge to decide whether she is legally eligible to seek the office, requesting a “binding declaration confirming her right to appear on the ballot.”
Krishanti Vignarajah announced plans to run for governor in August, but questions have been raised since then about her voter registration and residency status.
Under the state constitution, a candidate for governor must be at least 30 years old and have been both a Maryland resident and registered voter for the five years immediately preceding the election.
Vignarajah, who was a policy aide for former first lady Michelle Obama, filed the lawsuit Friday seeking a declaratory judgment in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
She named Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign, the state Board of Elections and Mary Wagner, the director of voter registration for the state election board, as defendants.
According to the legal filing, Vignarajah named Wagner and Hogan because of comments Wagner and Dick Haire, Hogan’s campaign lawyer, made to reporters about Vignarajah’s eligibility.
Haire told the Baltimore Sun that Vignarajah “does not even meet residency requirements and has shown she simply doesn’t have what it takes to lead our state.”
Vignarajah had previously blamed her potential Democratic rivals for raising questions about her eligibility. None are named in her legal challenge.
The Maryland State Board of Elections asked Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) to weigh in on whether a person who registered in the state but later voted in another jurisdiction would be considered a registered Maryland voter. Wagner told The Washington Post last month that Frosh’s office would probably not offer any advice until the filing deadline for the June primary, which is Feb. 27.
Vignarajah has refused to answer questions about her voter registration and residency. In the 28-page court filing, she says that she was always a registered voter, even though she had not voted in the state for 10 years. Vignarajah said she lived in the District, but considered Maryland her home.
She voted in the District from 2010 to 2014 and voted in Maryland in 2016.
Vignarajah is one of seven Democrats in the race for governor. She is the only woman that has announced.
The other challengers are: former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery), attorney Jim Shea and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.