Rehearsal and mail-in ballot hiccups hit several Maryland. counties

Early in-person voting in the Maryland primary begins Thursday, but in recent weeks problems with sample ballots and absentee ballots sent to voters have emerged across the state as election boards adjust to newly drawn district maps and a postponed election date .

In Montgomery County, 791 residents received two absentee ballots after state ballot provider Taylor Corp. mistakenly mailed an extra ballot to a group of voters, according to county and state officials.

In Prince George’s County, about 10,000 voters received false sample ballots — the result of a misprint, according to the county board of elections.

In Calvert County, a coding error at provider Washington Post Digital Print Solutions — a small commercial publishing company owned by the Washington Post — resulted in about 20,000 registered voters receiving sample ballot information for the wrong party, local election officials said.

“The bug was quickly fixed and new sample ballots were distributed within 48 hours,” said Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti. Calvert County election officials said correct sample ballots were sent to voters and that the error did not affect the actual ballots.

Maryland’s 2022 Primary Election: How to Vote, Candidates and More

And in Queen Anne’s County, state officials said registered voters received a model Republican ballot regardless of party identification.

Though the voting issues have surfaced across the state as voters prepare to make choices for the governor, attorney general, congress and other races, state and local election officials have given reassurances that the issues are being addressed and the election results are not will affect.

“All issues identified have been resolved and will be corrected,” Maryland Deputy Elections Secretary Nikki Charlson said in an interview. In cases where errors were made, they said, vendors or state and local election officials informed voters of the error and told them how to proceed. She also noted that local boards select their own vendors to print and mail sample ballots, while the state Board of Elections certifies and selects vendors to print actual ballots.

“Elections are many, many moving parts, and there’s always a small thing that happens in an election,” Charlson said. “The added complexity to this election was the new election process, which occurred almost simultaneously with the election preparation activities.”

In March, the Maryland Court of Appeals postponed the state’s primary election day from June 28 to July 19, when state Republicans challenged a redrawn congressional map passed by Democrats in December, claiming it had been illegally tampered with. They were successful, and a new convention card was approved in April.

There are approximately 4.1 million registered voters in Maryland, including approximately 2.2 million Democrats and nearly 1 million Republicans. But turnout in the primary is expected to be low. In the 2018 primary, which like 2022 had no presidential election, about 600,000 Marylanders voted, according to the Maryland Board of Elections.

A major change from 2018 is the number of voters expected to vote by mail. Around 30,000 people voted by post in the 2018 primary. So far this year, statistics provided by the state board have shown that about 500,000 voters have applied for mail-in ballots, though it’s unclear whether that many will actually vote by mail. A large number of postal votes could delay election results. According to the law, absentee ballots can only be counted on the Thursday after the election.

Taylor, the Minnesota-based company hired to print the Maryland ballots, mistakenly mailed a second mail-in ballot to 791 Montgomery County voters who had already received one, said Acting Montgomery County Election Commissioner Alysoun McLaughlin. The state electoral committee informed the affected voters by post on July 1.

Many Marylanders remain undecided as early voting begins this week

Voters who received a second ballot should destroy the second ballot if they already voted by mail, according to the state elections commission. If they haven’t, they can vote with one of the two ballots and destroy the other.

McLaughlin said the Montgomery County Election Committee did not issue an announcement about the error because it was a “routine matter” that would not affect the accurate counting of votes.

“It’s routine for us to give a voter a second ballot,” McLaughlin said. “There is a unique [tracking] Number assigned to each voter so we can ensure that only one of those ballots is counted.”

The Prince George’s County Board of Elections announced the issuance of the sample ballots on June 21, confirming mail-in ballots would not be affected and pledging to resend correct sample ballots.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/07/06/maryland-mail-ballot-issues/ Rehearsal and mail-in ballot hiccups hit several Maryland. counties

Dustin Huang

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