ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Maryland State Board of Elections plans to request more than $20 million in additional state funds to cover the costs associated with an expected surge in mail-in ballots in the fall general election due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a three-page letter, elections board administrator Linda Lamone said the agency’s current budget “is not sufficient to conduct the November 3 election.” She plans to request a budget amendment of $20,604,260 to cover additional costs.
Of that request, the elections board estimates it will spend $5.6 million to print and mail forms to request mail-in ballots, $5.5 million to print and mail vote-by-mail packets and $4 million on a statewide voter education campaign.
While federal funding was available as part of the CARES Act, more money isn’t available.
“The fiscal impact of the primary election was reduced due to the federal CARES Act funding and election officials’ ability to transfer funds needed for a primarily in-person election to a primarily vote-by-mail election,” Lamone wrote. “There are no federal CARES Act funding left, and there will not be sufficient savings to apply to the expected increase in mail-in ballots.”
Federal funds designated for election security efforts would create other problems, she added.
“Using these funds for non-election security items means that State funds will be needed to replace the federal funds or our efforts to enhance how we protect our election systems and data will be impacted,” the letter reads.
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Gov. Larry Hogan has directed the elections board to keep all polling places open on Election Day despite the pandemic while also sending all eligible voters an absentee ballot application request.
A number of local officials have asked the governor to reconsider his plan.