Md. GOP Lawmakers Unveil Election Security Bills

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Election integrity” is the goal of several bills unveiled by the Maryland General Assembly Joint Republican Caucus Thursday.

One measure would prohibit the mass-mailing of unrequested absentee ballots.

Under another bill, voters would be required to present identification at the polls to verify their name and mailing address with an election judge. A voter would be able to request a provisional ballot, and while no one would be denied the right to vote if there is a question about a person’s identity, voting with a false form of ID would be grounds to be prosecuted for vote fraud.

“Our mail-in ballot process is lacking in adequate protections, and both of these commonsense bills are aimed at securing ballots cast by mail,” House Minority Whip Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll Co. said. “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.”

“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,” State Senator Justin Ready, R-Carroll Co. said. “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.”

The following bill numbers and descriptions were provided by the GOP Caucuses:

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.

HB 1172 – Mail In Voter Privacy Act of 2022 removes party affiliation from absentee ballot envelopes.

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.

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 judgeAccepted 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 ballotIf 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 deniedSB532 also makes voting with a false form of identification grounds for prosecution for voter fraud.