ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan is directing the State Board of Elections to keep all polling places open for the general election in November despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to the board’s chairman on Wednesday, Hogan also called on the state to send out absentee ballot application requests to all eligible voters and make every effort to promote absentee and early voting as well as voting during off-peak hours.

“Every early voting center should be open and every polling location should be open on Election Day to accommodate anyone who wishes to cast their ballot safely and in person,” the letter reads.

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Hogan also wrote he remains concerned about the “series of failures that — while not intended — potentially resulted in disenfranchisement and suppression of primary voters.”

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the State Board of Elections said it will “move forward with plans for a traditional general election on November 3rd and will expand efforts to promote voting by mail, early voting, and voting at offpeak times.”

The board also said it would continue to work with local officials and the public to make sure voting is safe and accessible.

In a joint statement, Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones expressed some concerns about whether local officials will be able to handle an expected surge in mail ballot applications:

“We are pleased the Governor finally made a decision that included early voting and election-day precinct level voting, but we share the concerns that local election officials will not have the staff or resources to process that many Vote By Mail applications in a timely manner.

The Governor must provide the necessary resources to the local and state boards for personal protective equipment, additional staff and a robust awareness campaign.

We hope the Governor will maintain maximum flexibility so that, should the pandemic worsen, or Election Judges are unable to be found, we can pivot to ensure that no Maryland voter is disenfranchised. It is now incumbent upon every election official and elected leader to work together to make this election a success. Failure is not an option.”

On Facebook, Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire praised the plan:

“I am very pleased to let everyone know that Governor Hogan has ordered every precinct in the State to be open for in person voting on November 3, 2020, as required by State law. The Governor also advised SBE to encourage those who are concerned about voting in person to vote by our existing absentee ballot process. Common sense prevailed.”

The Maryland Democratic Party, meanwhile, said the election should be conducted primarily by mail with “as many early voting and in-person voting locations will allow”:

“We are living in a world where our entire way of life and economy can be wiped out in a matter of days. Why on earth would Gov. Hogan recommend that our public buildings be open and staffed for the general election, when we have no idea what our public health situation will be by the Fall? If the Governor insists on an in-person precinct-level election, then he must be held fully responsible for any and all poll-worker shortages; lack of PPE; or long lines associated with his decision. We must follow the advice of the scientists and public health experts.”

During the primary in June — which had been delayed from April 28 due to the pandemic — some Baltimore voters received mail-in ballots that didn’t scan and had to be transferred to new ballots. Other voters reported not getting mail-in ballots at all.

Some voters reported waiting in long lines to cast their ballots in person.

Comments (6)
  1. Jane G says:

    Thank you and bless you Gov. Hogan. You’ve got my vote in 2024 if you run…..

    1. Frank says:

      Before you vote please do your research. It obvious that you dont know politics, so please do your research before you stroke a check mark in any box on any ballet. Hogan is termed out after this run which means he cannot run for governor again.

  2. Stan says:

    LOL- Hogan can not run for Gov. again, he is in his 2nd term now. They need to be sure every American can vote by mail due to COVID- all the millions of voter fraud Trump claims is not real . Anyone who votes twice in more than one state or votes after death gets it thrown out when the computers find it. Fraudulent voting is very small and they have over 3 months to gear up for a SAFE and fair election. Trump has had over 3 years and has NOT been unable to prove any widespread voter fraud in the last election. The few people who were caught some voted for Trump.

    Crybaby Trump will of course cry fraud & demand recounts , so let him.

    I have voted by mail for years as I am older & not able to stand for long periods & do not have a wheel chair. I am not fraudulent or dead (yet anyhow). I will NOT vote for Trump. If Hogan runs for some other office, I might consider voting for him, but I am disappointed how he has greatly increased his personal wealth while Governor. In that respect he’s crooked.

    In some instances you do have to send in proof of ID (copy of new ID cards/ licenses) along w/ a mail in ballot. Once that ID is entered in it can only be used for one ballot. I don’t have to as my ID was verified the last time I voted in person and I am still at the same address. There are checks & balances to keep it legit, it’s not like you can go pick up a stack of ballots and mail them in!

  3. Why? says:

    Hogan seems to be trying to walk the fine line between Trump’s no vote by mail position and doing the right thing.

    Why not just send the ballots like we did for the primary? Sending applications and then sending ballots seems like a waste of money.

    We already have proof of concept from the primary. Why is this approach not suitable for the general election?

    Plan for the worst, hope for the best. What happens if pandemic round two occurs in November? Do we really want thousands of people standing in line at voting centers?

  4. Frank says:

    Absolutely no mail in ballots. if you leftists can stand and protest then you can stand in line to vote. Simple as that.

  5. Why? says:

    Frankly, your argument is flawed. For starters, everyone was not protesting. And many of those protesting would not consider themselves leftists. Protesting is a constitutional right. So is the right to vote. And mail-in ballots insure that everyone gets that right.

    Were you against mail in ballots for the primaries? FYI, 97% of the ballots cast for the primaries were by mail-in ballot, and there was high turnout. Were you part of the 3% that went to a public polling place to cast your ballot? If you weren’t, then why you were taking advantage of a voting method you do not approve of?

    What happens if a huge swath of voters requests absentee ballots? Then we may be doubling the cost of the mail-in ballots, because there will be a cost for printing and mailing the applications to every household, and then another cost for printing and mailing the ballots to those that request them. Your desire to punish leftists at all costs overlooks the fact that the state is already in a bad spot financially.

    And what happens if pandemic round two occurs around election time? Our case numbers are down now, but they have beencreeping up in the last few days. In a month, students will be coming from all over the country and all over the world to attend colleges here, possibly bringing plenty of covid cases with them. What happens if the case numbers get of control in Maryland and the pandemic is in full swing in during the election window? Should people have to risk their lives to vote?

    I think what you are really scared of is some seats of your preferred candidates being lost if turnout is high. Right wingers always want to limit the ways that people can vote. It’s their way of enforcing minoritarianism.

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