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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Ervin files suit to revise Md. primary ballot

Valerie Ervin, a Democratic candidate for governor, has filed suit in Anne Arundel County in an attempt to force the Maryland State Board of Elections to revise the primary election ballot.

Valerie Ervin. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Valerie Ervin. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Mariana C. Cordier, an attorney for Ervin, said the candidate is seeking a court order to force the board to act so that Ervin and her running mate, Marisol Johnson, appear on the ballots used in early voting and the June 26 primary. Ervin announced her intent to seek the nomination two weeks ago after her running mate, Baltimore County Kevin Kamenetz, died suddenly.

“This is a historic ticket, so it should be reprinted,” Cordier said.

Ervin is the first African-American woman to run for Maryland governor. Johnson is a Baltimore County business owner who emigrated from El Salvador.

The lawsuit, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, seeks to prohibit the board from distributing the ballots currently printed for the election. It further asks for a court order to force the board to either reprint the ballots or revise them with a sticker that replaces the Kamenetz and Ervin ticket with a Ervin and Johnson ticket.

State elections officials say changes to the ballot are impossible because of a lack of availability of the paper on which it is printed and problems that could arise from altering the ballot with stickers.

Two weeks ago, the Board of Elections issued a statement saying it was too late to reprint the ballots. Instead, it will notify voters of Kamenetz’s death and that a vote for him would count for Ervin.

Cordier said it is unclear how that notification will work and that a failure to reprint or revise the ballot “raises concerns about the integrity of the election.”

In a May 29 letter, an attorney representing the state board of elections tells Cordier that reprinting or revising the ballots is not possible.

Last week the board released a list of more than two dozen actions it planned to take to inform voters of the change including posting notices at polling places and in polling booths as well as on its websites and social media accounts and having staff on hand to read notices to voters who call asking how to vote for Ervin.

“To be clear, based on the lack of availability of sufficient quantities of the specialized ballot paper stock and the operating schedule of the mill from which the paper is sourced, it would be impossible to reprint the ballots in advance of the primary election,” wrote Andrea W. Trento, an assistant attorney general. “Nor will it be possible to ‘correct’ the printed ballots with stickers reflecting the Ervin-Johnson candidacy, since the uniform voting system in use across the state cannot accommodate stickers. Litigation will not change either of these facts.”


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