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General Assembly Leaders Push For In-Person Primary Voting

Rachel Baye

The leaders of the state Senate and House of Delegates are pushing back on calls to require that all voters in the June primary election submit their ballots by mail. Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones lodged their concerns in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday.


At its meeting last week, the State Board of Elections backed a plan that would not include in-person voting options for the upcoming primary. The board questioned whether in-person voting will be safe for either voters or poll workers given the coronavirus pandemic.  


The State Board of Elections plans to adopt final recommendations on Thursday. Hogan will make the final call.


Ferguson and Jones said not having in-person voting options disproportionately affects minority and low-income voters. And they cited a 2011 study that found that requiring mail-in ballots decreases participation among urban voters by 50%. 


Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said the governor will review both the leaders’ letter and the Board of Elections’ final recommendations.

“The governor is committed to conducting the primary election in a way that protects public health and preserves the integrity of the democratic process,” he wrote.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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