BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Today was the first time since the primary election that we heard directly from Maryland State Board of Elections administration about the issues with the election.
Administrator Linda Lamone and Chair Michael Cogan joined the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs and House Ways & Means committees for a joint virtual hearing.
"Voters and all of us today are rightly concerned about the integrity of our elections moving forward," said committee chair Del. Anne Kaiser.
The purpose was to identify what worked and what didn’t work and how it can be fixed before November. The concerns focused on the implementation and aftermath in Baltimore City, from delayed or missing ballots to incorrect ballots and long lines on election day.
"These elections however taught us a great deal and based on what we learned, we can make changes for November 3rd," said Lamone.
One of the biggest concerns brought up was the overall lack of transparency and communication from the state board, including the mailing issues with the state’s vendor, SeaChange, where Baltimore City ballots were delayed, and in some cases incorrect, causing the city board of elections to have to duplicate district one ballots.
"How are we holding that vendor accountable while we are going through the process and then how do we hold them accountable after these faults are happening?," said Del. Alonzo Washington.
Lamone said attorneys are looking into the legalities of the issues with SeaChange as the state board searches for a new mailing house. They are waiting for test ballots to come back from 6 vendors before making a decision.
"Any contract will have expanded reporting with documents and greater oversight," said Lamone.
Lamone said they have sought out Maryland-based printing companies before but the only one that was interested could not produce ballots that could be scanned.
A new mailing house is one of the changes Lamone announced today. They will also be conducting a full accounting of the mailing process.
"The elections were not perfect. We know that as well as, indeed better, than everyone else," said Cogan.
Cogan acknowledged the issues and said they did their best with unprecedented challenges.
"In the midst of a pandemic, subject to the requirements of national and Maryland State’s of Emergencies, over a period of 74 days, the State Board of Elections held from a no notice, standing start, 2 major elections, both of which were dramatically different than any previous Maryland election," said Cogan.
The legislators' questions that could not be answered today will be sent to the board for response and the state board will meet this week to talk about the primary as well.