ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WJZ) — Members of Maryland’s congressional delegation on Thursday called for a review of problems that occurred in this week’s primary election.
Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen joined seven of the state’s eight U.S. House members in calling for the review of Tuesday’s primary, which was held mostly by mail due to safety concerns with the coronavirus.
There were a limited number of in-person voting centers that had long lines in some areas. The lawmakers, all Democrats, also noted that the primary took place amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality.
“The primary election in Maryland on Tuesday was conducted under extraordinary circumstances that required timing changes and significant adjustments to voting methods,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “Under this pressure, it is clear there have been a number of breakdowns in the process.”
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, also criticized the process at a news conference Wednesday. He said there were “significant failures,” and he called on the state elections board to prepare a report to him and other state officials by July 3.
Last month, officials ended up authorizing the setup of two additional voting centers in Baltimore over concerns that ballots were not arriving in the mail as planned.
On Tuesday, dozens of voters remained in line two hours after polls were scheduled to close because social-distancing measures prompted by the pandemic slowed the flow of people at voting centers.
“With the full participation and cooperation of the Maryland State Board of Elections and the Board’s staff, there must be an urgent, thorough and rigorous review of the Maryland primary election to identify problems that occurred, take steps to address them and ensure that as a state we are well-prepared to conduct a safe, free and fair election in November,” the lawmakers’ statement said.
Currently, Sheila Dixon holds a narrow lead in the race for Mayor of Baltimore. She has been critical of voting issues the past two primaries.
“I don’t think the Board of Elections at the state level or the local level did a good job at educating people,” Dixon said.
WJZ reached out to state elections officials for an interview the past two days, but they’ve declined.
The administrator, Wednesday, to the Board of Public Works, blamed ballot issues on an out-of-state vendor.
“We’re going to look to see how we can make things better and work with local boards of elections,” Linda Lamone, Maryland Board of Elections Administrator, said.
At that meeting, the lieutenant governor and comptroller each called for Lamone to resign.
“I rarely ask people to step down, but i just think it’s time,” Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said.
Gov. Hogan stopped short of that. Wednesday, he reminded the public the Election Board is independent and said it lacks accountability.
“It makes sense because elections are supposed to be free and independent,” Gov. Hogan said. “You wouldn’t want a partisan Republican or Democratic governor to be able to fire the administrator, control the election board, rig the elections.”
Gov. Hogan said he wants a report within the month and the General Assembly to look into it. A hearing has been called for June 16.
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