The special election to fill the seat of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D) is presenting state elections officials with a unique set of challenges.
The special general election set for April 28 coincides with the regular 2020 primaries in the state.
So not only could voters in the 7th District cast votes for different candidates for the same seat on that day, those separate elections might also be on the same ballot.
The State Board of Elections is still working out exactly how ballots for the two elections should be designed, including whether voters in the 7th should receive two different ballots to cast, or one ballot with a special section for the special election.
“We’re still trying to figure out the mechanics of the ballot system but we’re hoping that it will at least be on a separate page,” said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy for election policy.
The board voted Thursday on emergency regulations that will extend same-day voter registration – which is only allowed in state law for regular elections – to the special election process as well. Another emergency regulation will allow early voting for the special general election so it can coincide with the early voting period for the regular primary.
Once they take effect, the emergency regulations would remain in place for 180 days.
The special primary – in which Democratic voters are likely to produce the district’s next representative – is scheduled for Feb. 4.
The timeline for the special election is tight because of federal requirements for mailing military and overseas ballots. Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone said Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who formally declares special elections, worked with the office on a schedule that’s most manageable.
The filing period for the special election opened Wednesday, and the deadline for candidates to file is Nov. 20.
Four non-partisan candidates have officially filed statements of candidacy with the state board for the special election. Baltimore Del. Talmadge Branch (D) told Baltimore media outlets on Thursday that he intends to run and city Sen. Jill P. Carter (D) announced an exploratory committee for a possible run earlier this week.
Former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, who held the House seat before Cummings, said he plans to “gather with family and friends” on Monday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum for announcement about the race.
Other potential contenders include Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, state Sen. Cory V. McCray, and state Dels. Vanessa Atterbeary, Keith Haynes, Terri L. Hill, Nick J. Mosby and Charles E. Sydnor III.