But the plan would be a significant expansion of voting by mail. There are more than 4 million active registered voters in Maryland. The state only mailed 225,653 absentee ballots for the 2016 presidential election. About 177,000 of those ballots were returned for counting by elections officials.
State officials said they likely would need to hire a vendor to handle the increased number of ballots and expand the capacity of their online voter registration portal.
Board members questioned how the state will verify that ballots are being cast by the actual voters they sent them to. Charlson said the state's current absentee ballot procedure is to check for a signature.
"We're not actually looking at the signatures, are we?" asked Howells. "In vote-by-mail states, I think they used software to compare the signatures."
"Our problem is we are not a vote-by-mail state, so we have no real safeguards built into it," Cogan said.
The board quickly moved on from the topic.
The governor will have the ultimate authority to accept or reject the Board of Elections' recommendations, based on the state of emergency he declared in response to the virus. Asked previously if he was open to a mail-only primary in June, he said he was "open to all suggestions."
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