Voters receiving their ballots for Maryland’s 2020 Presidential Primary, rescheduled for June 2 due to the coronavirus outbreak, have discovered a glaring error right at the top of them:
The ballots say April 28.
The incorrect date is acknowledged in the instructions included with the ballots now being mailed to registered voters by the Maryland State Board of Elections:
“Your ballot has ‘April 28, 2020′ printed at the top due to insufficient time to reprint the ballots after the presidential primary election date was changed to June 2nd, due to the coronavirus,” the instructions say.
“The April date does not affect your ballot being counted,” the instructions continue, noting that ballots will be counted as long as they are postmarked by June 2.
The potentially confusing ballots should be hitting Baltimore-area voters’ mailboxes in about a week.
“We reached the point where we could not do anything else without incurring other risks and complications” – State Elections Official.
Deputy Elections Administrator Nikki Charlson said the ballots had already been printed when Gov. Larry Hogan, on March 17, ordered the election date changed from April 28 to June 2.
“We reached the point where we could not do anything else without incurring other risks and complications,” Charlson said. “It was a function of time, there just wasn’t enough time.”
Charlson said election officials consider the instructions, included along with the ballots, the best way to reach voters.
Out of concern that for the potential spread of Covid-19 at polling places, Hogan subsequently ordered the election to be conducted almost entirely by mail.
“We’re giving them the information at the point they need it,” she said.
Dixon: “Gross Oversight”
Some critics want the state to do more to dispel any confusion voters might have because of the incorrect date.
Sheila Dixon, a Democratic candidate for mayor in Baltimore, complained about the ballots to Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
“This kind of gross oversight is unacceptable and needs to be addressed by the state and local Board of Elections doing an aggressive PSA media campaign and direct mail to voters explaining in detail what the process of this election is and the errors that have occurred,” Dixon said.
DeMarinis said the use of the old ballots was reasonable given the tight frame and the fact that some 3.5 million new ballots would have had to be printed to correct the date.
Charlson, meanwhile, points to the informational video being released today (and posted on the Election Board’s website) explaining how to vote in this first-of-its-kind election.
“It makes note of the issue of the date on the ballot,” she said.