Coronavirus leads Maryland governor to back vote-by-mail

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Jon Ward
·Chief National Correspondent
·3 min read
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Larry Hogan, right
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, right. (Susan Walsh/AP)

WASHINGTON — The state of Maryland will send mail-in ballots to every registered voter in the state, include a return envelope with prepaid postage, and eliminate most forms of in-person voting for its June 2 primary election, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday.

Hogan, a Republican, announced that he had approved a plan submitted by the state Board of Elections to shift to what the board itself described as “a significant and fundamental change in how elections are conducted.”

The decision in Maryland stands in stark contrast to the way the state of Wisconsin conducted its primary this past Tuesday in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and to President Trump’s resistance to calls to prepare for a vote-by-mail election this fall. Trump has made the unsupported claim that voting by mail would lead to fraud. He has also argued that Republicans would lose the election as a result, even though mail-in voting is a central part of the Republican strategy to win key swing states like Florida.

Hogan said he was “joining [the state Board of Elections] in strongly urging every Marylander who can vote by mail to cast their ballot by mail.”

The plan released by the Board of Elections said it will make contingency plans for “voters who have difficulty receiving mail or who are unable to mark a ballot by hand” but did not explain what the solution would be for those two groups.

The changes to the election will require a “an extensive voter education campaign,” the BOE report said.

In addition, “rigorous security and retrieval procedures will be developed, implemented and audited.” But each county will be allowed to have at least one but no more than four ballot drop-off locations for those who prefer not to put their ballot in the mail.

The Hogan-backed Board of Elections report stated that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized the risks associated with in-person voting and recommends using voting methods that minimize direct contact with other people and reducing crowd size at voting locations.”

But in Wisconsin on Tuesday, state officials forged ahead with in-person voting for their primary election despite last-minute attempts by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, to postpone the election until June. The Republican-controlled state Legislature opposed Evers, and the state’s Supreme Court overruled the governor’s executive order that he issued the day before the election.

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