“I’m encouraging everyone to vote by mail instead of vote by mail only, which is what some of our Democratic colleagues are pushing for,” Hogan said during an appearance on the television show “The View,” where he explained his decision to open all polling sites in the state and mail absentee-ballot applications to every voter, rather than the ballots themselves.
“In the primary we had, the State Board of Elections screwed up getting ballots out,” Hogan said. “They mailed the wrong ballots. They mailed Spanish ballots to English speakers. They sent things to the wrong districts. They got them out too late.”
Democratic elected officials are calling on Hogan to mail ballots to every voter and offer limited in-person voting on Election Day, with more polling sites available than during the primary. Voting rights advocates have increasingly criticized Hogan’s decision not to limit polling sites or mail ballots to the entire electorate. Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) has urged Hogan to reverse his order, saying it could have “devastating consequences.”
“We don’t believe that Gov. Hogan is acting in the best interest of Maryland voters,” said Joanne Antoine, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that voters consider alternatives to casting ballots in person.
States across the country are deciding the best ways to hold the November elections, with some opting for mail-in ballots and limited polling sites and others, like Maryland, moving toward a traditional election, albeit with a robust mail-in option.
The use of mail-in ballots in November has increasingly become a partisan issue, with President Trump repeatedly and without evidence raising questions about the security of mailed ballots and pressuring Republican governors not to expand voting by mail.
About two dozen states are embroiled in legal challenges over how elections will look this fall.
In Maryland, Democratic elected officials have raised concerns about the costs of running the polling sites and finding workers to operate them. Most poll workers are seniors, who are especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
“He’s literally taken a step backward in the face of a global pandemic,” said Del. Nick J. Mosby (D-Baltimore City), who chairs the House subcommittee on election laws.
Mosby said Hogan is “pandering” to the right wing of the Republican Party with his directive for the November election.
Requiring voters to send in an application for an absentee ballot, he said, is a step that will only cause confusion and voter suppression: “It adds no value to increasing democracy.”
Hogan said he wants voters to have multiple options, even as he encourages people to vote by mail.
“We’re encouraging to vote by mail. If you don’t vote by mail, we have early voting and encouraging early vote . . . ” he said. “And then on Election Day, we’re actually going to have the polls open, in case we have the problem we had in the primary.”