ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A judge ruled against a candidate in Maryland’s governor’s race Monday who sought to change the ballot to reflect she is now running for governor, not lieutenant governor, after the sudden death of her running mate.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge William Mulford said he didn’t believe there was time to reprint ballots for the June 26 primary. He also said another potential remedy to apply stickers to ballots to show the change without adequate testing could gum up voting machines and potentially cause “havoc.”
“I just can’t imagine turning this election upside down,” Mulford said, before denying a request by Valerie Ervin, a Democrat, to either reprint ballots or put stickers on them to show she is now the candidate for governor and her running mate, Marisol Johnson, is now her running mate.
Ervin, who decided to take the place of Kevin Kamenetz at the top of the ticket after he died suddenly May 10, told reporters she and her lawyer need to discuss the ruling and decide whether to appeal to the state’s highest court.
State elections officials contend the ballot can’t be changed, because there wasn’t enough time to reprint the ballots. They also say there wasn’t time to adequately test whether the stickers would work properly.
Mulford said he believed Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, and the board acted reasonably, given the time constraints. He pointed out that Lamone quickly inquired about the possibilities of reprinting ballots, days before Ervin said she would take his place at the top of the ticket.
“The court finds that they were reasonable,” Mulford said.
Elections officials say they will post notices in voting booths and at polling places about Kamenetz’s death and tell voters that Ervin is running in his place and that Johnson is her running mate.
“I still believe that the voters lost today,” Ervin said. “I believe that the mitigation for putting a sign in the voting booths does not go far enough. I believe, and Marisol and I have talked about this many times, this is way bigger than the two of us and that we really do believe that voters are going to be confused, and we need to do all that we can to support their right to vote and to be clear about who it is that they’re voting for.”
Mulford noted a ruling by the state’s highest court last month that a state senator’s name could not be taken off the ballot — even though the senator has pleaded guilty to federal charges — after state lawyers argued that ordering the change would disrupt the election process. While Mulford said he sympathized with Ervin’s situation, he said he didn’t see how he could rule in her favor.
“I wish I could help you, but I just can’t,” Mulford said.