ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A day after a fiery letter from Gov. Larry Hogan demanded the Maryland State Board of Elections put forth its plan for how it will administer the general election in November within 48 hours, the agency’s administrator said absentee ballot applications will be sent to all eligible voters by the end of August.
In response to Hogan’s letter on Tuesday, elections board administrator Linda Lamone outlined a number of hurdles the board has faced in trying to follow the plan the governor put forth last month.READ MORE: Health Officials Urge Vaccination & Boosters As COVID-19 Rate Rises, Omicron Arrives In Maryland
Hogan has championed a hybrid form for the election, with as many voters as possible being urged to mail their ballots ahead of time while also keeping polling places open for in-person voting. He also called on the board to send all voters absentee ballot applications rather than mailing all voters ballots, a move critics said would prove more costly.
Among the challenges the board faced were finding a provider that could print and mail the more than four million absentee ballot applications. Lamone wrote that in mid-July, the board learned Maryland Correctional Enterprises, one of its preferred providers, wouldn’t be able to complete the job.
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The board is set to approve the mailing on Wednesday and will need to give the application and instructions to a vendor by Friday, Lamone wrote. Printing the applications is expected to take 14 business days and another three days will be required to stuff the envelopes.
Mailing is set to begin on August 24 and will end by no later than August 31, she wrote.
As voters begin to return the applications, the board hopes to have another data center to help process the requests, adding neither it nor local boards have the capacity to do so. Without that help, Lamone wrote, voters may not get absentee ballots in time for the election.
At Wednesday’s board meeting, the board will also review requests from county-level election officials to consolidate voting locations.
The consolidation is driven in part by a shortage of election judges. Late last month, the president of the Maryland Association of Election Officials said it’s becoming impossible to fill vacancies for nearly 14,000 election judges before November 3.MORE NEWS: Jury Watches Interrogation Video In Murder Trial For Keith Smith, Who Blamed Panhandler For Wife's Death
Since the governor’s office decided to offer state workers 16 hours of administrative leave to serve as election judges, more than 2,500 have signed up to do so, Lamone wrote.