Ballots addressed to Baltimore City voters were not mailed until at least last Thursday, a full week later than planned and long after ballots were sent to other registered voters across Maryland.
A statement from the Maryland Board of Elections on Sunday said that the June 2 primary mail-in ballots for Baltimore City voters are now expected to arrive by May 23. The board had originally said that Baltimoreans could expect ballots from early to mid-May.
“The Board is deeply committed to ensuring that ballots are delivered promptly and securely to all eligible voters in the City of Baltimore and across Maryland,” said Maryland Administrator of Elections Linda Lamoe. “We are grateful to the many Baltimore residents who have contacted us with questions about the vote by mail process and thank them for their patience.”
The board did not specify why the ballots were delayed, but did say that the Baltimore City Board of Elections is not to blame.
As the coronavirus pandemic worsened in mid-March, Gov. Larry Hogan moved the presidential primary from April 28 to June 2 and ordered statewide mail-in voting. The state held its first mail-in election last month.
Ballots for the primary were printed before Hogan’s decision; they show the election as still being on April 28. The ballots’ instructions explain that the date is incorrect and that the ballots are still valid. Voters throughout Maryland will cast their ballots for the presidential primary and local primaries, including major Democratic races for mayor and other citywide roles in Baltimore.
Candidates throughout Baltimore decried the city’s ballot delay.
“This report is completely unacceptable, endangers the voting rights of the people of Baltimore, and seems to be part of a pattern that began in the 7th District Special Primary when 20,367 ballots were never delivered to Baltimore City residents,” said City Council President Brandon Scott, a Democrat who is running for mayor.
The council president has requested an emergency public meeting with the board no later than Tuesday to update Baltimore voters on the status of their ballots.
City Council President candidate Carl Stokes issued a statement on Monday calling for Linda Lamone’s resignation.
“We tried to be patient as ballots arrived in other jurisdictions but now we have learned that misrepresentations were given on when the ballots were mailed and that the state board failed to send city voter lists to the vendors,” Stokes said. “This is incompetence at the highest level. This is suppressing city voting and it's time for new leadership at the state board of elections.”
Lamone has served as head of elections since 1997.
There is no postage needed to mail in a return ballot, which must be postmarked no later than June 2. Any eligible voter who does not receive a ballot in the mail can submit a ballot request to absentee.SBE@maryland.gov or call 800-222-8683.