Oversight leads to ballot instructions saying stamps needed for special election

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Instructions mailed with the ballot for the 7th Congressional District special election. Photo by Brandon Weigel.

State election officials want to make clear that residents do not need to pay postage to submit their mail-in ballots for the special election to fill Maryland’s 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A separate instructions sheet for filling out and mailing in the ballot says voters should include “at least 2 postage stamps.” On the back, it says to include the stamps on the envelope “to reduce the costs of your local board of elections.”

But as the envelope included in the packet says, “NO POSTAGE NECESSARY IF MAILED IN THE UNITED STATES.”

The Maryland State Board of Elections advised 7th Congressional District voters on Twitter: “When you’re ready to return your ballot, you do not need to add two stamps to the reply envelope. Postage is paid!”

The Baltimore City Board of Elections tweeted the form’s inclusion was a case of “human error.” The tweet has since been deleted.

The Howard County Board of Elections shared an all-caps Facebook post ensuring voters were aware they did not need stamps.

Parts of Baltimore and Howard counties and Baltimore City make up the 7th Congressional District.

Following the October death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered a special election on April 28 to determine who would serve out the rest of the late congressman’s term.

Democrat Kweisi Mfume, the former head of the NAACP who held the same seat in the House of Representatives from 1987-1996, and Republican Kimberly Klacik, a political strategist whose video footage of West Baltimore helped make Cummings the subject of attacks from President Donald Trump, emerged victorious in a crowded primary election in February.

In March, as the coronavirus crisis was growing in the state, Hogan ordered the regularly scheduled primary election for the 2020 cycle to be moved to June 2, but said the special election would keep its April date and be conducted by mail-in ballot.

“[I]t is imperative that the people of the 7th Congressional District have a voice in the House of Representatives, and that Maryland has a full delegation representing our state in Congress,” Hogan said at the time.

The Maryland State Board of Elections announced on Monday it would open three voting centers–one in each jurisdiction–to accommodate people who cannot vote by mail.

Brandon Weigel


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