ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Today, members of the Joint Republican Caucus announced a package of election integrity legislation to establish commonsense safeguards of Maryland’s elections processes.
“We believe in free and fair elections for all Marylanders. We also believe that confidence in our elections and their validity is the basis of our civil society,” said House Minority Leader Jason Buckel. “With mail-in ballots becoming a larger part of our elections process, this legislative package proactively establishes safeguards to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
HB 939 – Ballot Protection Act of 2022 prohibits election officials at all levels of government from the mass mailing of unrequested ballots for any election.
HB 963 – Securing the Vote Act of 2022 requires the State Board of Elections to utilize signature verification software to secure Maryland’s elections and is based on California’s protocols.
“Our mail-in ballot process is lacking in adequate protections, and both of these commonsense bills are aimed at securing ballots cast by mail,” said House Minority Whip Haven Shoemaker (Carroll). “We saw first-hand the disaster of mailing unrequested ballots in the 2020 election cycle and need be proactive about preventing that chaos from happening again. We also need signature verification as a way to ensure that ballots are being returned by the right people.”
HB 1172 – Mail In Voter Privacy Act of 2022 removes party affiliation from absentee ballot envelopes.
“This bill passed in the House last year with bipartisan support and we hope this year it is taken up by the Senate,” said Delegate William Wivell (Washington), the bill’s lead sponsor. “Printing a voter’s party affiliation on a ballot envelope serves no purpose when it comes to processing mail-in ballots and voters deserve privacy.”
SB 738 – Secure Elections Act of 2022 requires the State Board of Elections to coordinate with the local boards of elections during statewide elections to perform a sample audit of mail-in ballots to include signature verification. If a critical number of those sample ballots are rejected, it would trigger an audit of all the ballots in that jurisdiction. The bill also allows provisions for ballot curing and the reporting and posting of audit results to the Board of Elections.
“Having a sample audit of mail-in ballots will provide confidence in our elections given the significant increase of mail-in ballots allowed,” said Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire. “This is a necessary and reasonable safeguard knowing the flaws in our current law that was never designed to handle millions of mail-in ballots.”
SB 532 – Election Law – Polling Places – Proof of Identity (Voter ID) requires voters to present identification at the polls to verify their name and mailing address with an election judge. Accepted forms include a current, government-issued photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or any other recent government document that shows the voter’s name and address, voter notification card or sample ballot. If a voter cannot supply any accepted form of identification, or has a recent address change, they may vote a provisional ballot. At no point will an individual’s right to vote be denied. SB532 alsomakes voting with a false form of identification grounds for prosecution for voter fraud.
“In recent years, people on both sides of the political divide have expressed serious trust issues about our elections. One of the most straightforward and commonsense ways to ensure fair, secure elections is for Maryland to join the vast majority of other states in requiring identification to vote,” said Senator Justin Ready (Carroll).
“We require identification to enter this building, rent a hotel room, apply for a job, or even to purchase certain types of medication. This proposal lays out several forms of identification that can be used to add a layer of assurance at the polls that people are who they say they are.”