With Executive Order, Municipal Elections May Be Postponed

    Dozens of planned elections in Maryland ― with their potential to spread the novel coronavirus ― could be postponed after an executive order from Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. was signed on Monday.

    Hogan (R) issued an executive order allowing Maryland’s 157 municipalities to suspend their charters to postpone elections or change from in-person voting if they provide notice to the governor.

    About one-third of the state’s municipalities are scheduled to hold elections before June. That includes seven communities scheduled to go to the ballot box within the next couple of weeks: Hebron, Henderson, Middletown, Oakmont, Port Tobacco, Queen Anne and Ridgely.

    Scott Hancock, chief executive of the Maryland Municipal League, said Monday evening that it was too soon to tell which municipalities might postpone or modify election plans.

    “There’s been a lot of conversation within our association about whether they can move elections,” Hancock said. “Because they’re worried that not a lot of people will come out and vote, and more importantly, that it would jeopardize the health and safety of the public.”

    The executive order was issued to allow municipalities to avoid exposing government buildings, voters and municipal workers to the novel coronavirus.

    “Many municipal elections would ordinarily be conducted at polling locations that … hinder social distancing, enable the transmission of the novel coronavirus and pose risks to public health, welfare and safety,” the order states.

    The executive order will remain in effect until the state of emergency declared in Maryland on March 5 is lifted. As of Monday, there were at least 1,413 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

    According to the municipal league, at least thirty-nine municipalities had elections scheduled for May: Berwyn Heights, Boonsboro, Brookeville, Brookview, Cecilton, Chevy Chase, Chevy Chase Section 3, Chevy Chase View, Chevy Chase Village, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, Deer Park, Edmonston, Eldorado, Elkton, Funkstown, Garrett Park, Goldsboro, Havre de Grace, Keedysville, Laytonsville, Leonardtown, Midland, Morningside, Myersville, New Carrollton, North Brentwood, North Chevy Chase, Perryville, Secretary, Smithsburg, Snow Hill, Somerset, St. Michaels, Sudlersville, University Park, Vienna, Washington Grove and Westernport.

    And at least ten municipalities have June election dates: Barclay, Barton, Chesapeake City, Church Hill, Crisfield, Kensington, Luke, Oxford, Princess Anne and Templeville.

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    Update: This story was updated to include additional scheduled elections. 

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.