Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Tuesday that he is “inclined to believe” that Maryland should comply with a federal judge’s ruling that the state allow disabled voters to fill out absentee ballots online before printing and mailing them to election officials.
O’Malley’s comments came a day after the state attorney general’s office, which is representing election officials in the case, announced its intent to appeal the ruling. The office indicated, however, that it does not intend to seek a stay in the case, meaning the ballot-marking technology will be in use for the November election.
Opponents of the technology have raised concerns about whether it is vulnerable to hacking and other security breaches.
O’Malley, whose tenure ends in January and is weighing a 2016 White House bid, was asked about the case during a news conference he called to promote the Oct. 14 deadline for voters to register to participate in the general election.
“I’m not aware of the nuances of that one,” the governor said. But O’Malley added that the general trend in voting should be toward “greater participation.”
“If the technology affords us the means by which we can empower more individuals to vote, we should embrace that technology,” O’Malley said. “I would be inclined to believe that we should probably do what the judge told us to do.”
The tool was available to absentee voters in the state’s 2012 primary elections and to overseas voters that November. However, an improved version that makes it easier for people with disabilities to use the tool was not certified by the Maryland State Board of Elections for use this fall.
In a bench trial this month, attorneys for the state argued that Maryland should not be forced to use the tool given it had not been certified.
In a 33-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett, sitting in Baltimore, said the election board’s decision denied disabled plaintiffs “meaningful access to the State’s absentee ballot voting program as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.”
Bennett wrote that “earlier uses of the tool appear to have been uneventful, and there has been no evidence of security breaches connected to that use.”
Spencer S. Hsu and Jenna R. Johnson contributed to this report.