Republican Member of State Elections Board Resigns

    Kelley Howells, a Republican member of the State Board of Elections, is resigning effective on Jan. 1, officials announced Friday.

    Board Chair Michael R. Cogan (R) announced Howells’ resignation on Friday at a Board of Elections meeting. Howells, a Prince George’s County resident, was not present during the meeting. She had been on the board since 2015.

    Cogan read a statement from Howells, in which she commended other board members and election staff for their work, but did not give a reason for her resignation.

    “Please know that I’m fine,” Howells’ statement read. “I’m a lucky person who has all the important blessings in life.”

    “I am sorry to see her leave the board,” Cogan said. “I have valued her as a colleague.”

    Howells’ term was set to expire in 2023. It will be up to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to pick her replacement.

    Board members lauded election staff for what they described as a successful and well-run November election during the meeting. More than 3 million Marylanders voted in the election, totaling a roughly 74.5% turnout, according to a report by Deputy Election Administrator Nikki Charlson.

    About half of those voters used mail-in ballots, with a majority turning them in at drop-off boxes around the state.

    Board Vice Chairman Patrick J. Hogan called the election an “unmitigated success” – possibly referencing an August letter Gov. Hogan sent election officials that described the June primary as an “unmitigated disaster.”

    The two Hogans are not related.

    Charlson said a massive campaign to convince voters to use mail-in ballots and to vote early seemed to be a success, with more voters turning out during early voting than on Election Day.

    “It does seem as if our messaging changed voters’ behavior,” Charlson said.

    While some advocates have said that the unprecedented use of mail-in ballots could lead to permanent changes in the state, Cogan said he thinks the high turnout for early and Election Day voting shows that Marylanders are still keen to vote in-person.

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    Bennett Leckrone
    Leckrone is a December 2019 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. He has interned at The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Columbus Dispatch, PennLive.com, The Dayton Daily News and The Troy Daily News. Leckrone is a Report for America corps member.