In the primary elections in Maryland last month, most voters cast their ballots by mail for the first time. For the State Board of Elections and local elections officials, it was the first large-scale effort to hold a vote by mail in Maryland history. The mail-in process was, in the words of The State Board's July 2 report on the June 2 elections submitted to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, “not without issue."
Today on Midday, a conversation about how we will vote in November, here in Maryland and around the country. Because of the dangers for voters and poll workers associated with in-person polling stations, many elections experts and legislators think that despite the problems we encountered in June, the November election should be conducted largely by mail, with a ballot mailed directly to every registered voter, as was done last month in the primaries. Last week, Governor Hogan rejected that advice, directing the State Board of Elections to plan for an election on November 3rd that will be held using the same basic parameters that were in place when we voted prior to the Coronavirus pandemic. Read the Governor's order here.
That decision has been met with opposition from several groups, including the Maryland Association of Election Officials, Common Cause Maryland, State Attorney-General Bill Frosh and several state legislative leaders. One of those leaders is Tom's first guest today. Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson joins Tom via Zoom.
Later in the hour, Tom talks with Leah C. Aden. She's the Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF). Ms. Aden was a member of the LDF litigation team involved in the Shelby County v. Holder case in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 gutted a critical section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. She has led efforts in courts across the nation to combat voter suppression, to challenge the barriers that people of color face when it comes to registering and voting, and to ensure that voting is accessible and safe in November for all Americans. Leah Aden joins Tom via Zoom.
Then, Tom speaks with Wendy R. Reiser, a voting rights expert and vice president at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, a nonpartisan think tank and public interest law center. Ms. Weiser directs the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, which focuses on voting rights and elections, money in politics and ethics, redistricting and representation, government dysfunction, rule of law, and fair courts. She was the founding director of the program’s Voting Rights and Elections Project, directing litigation, research, and advocacy efforts to enhance political participation and prevent voter disenfranchisement across the country. Wendy Weiser joins us via Zoom.
An important reminder: tomorrow (Wednesday, July 15) is the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the Maryland Health Connection. If you are uninsured, go to MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the “Enroll MHC” mobile app. You have until tomorrow night at midnight to enroll in a health insurance plan. If you need assistance, call the Consumer Support Center at 1-855-642-8572. Hours: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
(Tomorrow is also the deadline for filing your federal and state taxes.)