The head of the Maryland State Board of Elections says it will take about $20 million to implement Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan for the November election and has asked the state’s budget secretary to approve the expense.
Lamone said that early voting will be available at 78 locations from Oct. 22 to 29 and that Election Day voting will be held at 1,600 polling places across the state. Given the coronavirus pandemic, she expects the number of voters who will request and receive absentee ballots this year will be “significantly” greater than those in prior elections.
Hogan has come under fire from Democratic officials for refusing to limit the number of polling places open on Election Day, and requiring voters to request absentee ballots instead of mailing them to all registered voters.
A spokesman for Brinkley said the secretary’s team is reviewing the letter.
Sen. Guy J. Guzzone (D-Howard), chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, described Hogan’s plan for the election as both confusing and costly.
Guzzone said there are expenses that would be needed regardless of how the election was structured, but there are “big chunks” for ballot requests that otherwise would not need to be spent. “He’s going a more costly route,” he said.
Hogan said he wants to provide voters with options, especially after hours-long waits at the few polling places that were open during the June 2 primary.
The state board mailed ballots to every registered voter for that election but in a large number of cases sent the wrong ballots or mailed them late. More voters than expected turned out at the polls, which — combined with extra cleaning and social distancing requirements that were in place — led to long lines and delayed returns.
Also on Tuesday, Democratic House leaders sent a letter to Hogan urging him to provide voters with prepaid postage for ballot requests and ballots.
“This is the bare minimum we can do for Maryland voters,” the letter reads. “Having a stamp should not determine your ability to exercise your constitutional right.”