By Deborah Bailey, Special to the AFRO
All options are still on the table for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin as the days wind down before the start of early voting on June 14 and Maryland’s primary June 26. Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge William C. Mulford II, handed down a decision this week denying the creation of new ballots or stickers listing Ervin’s name as a gubernatorial candidate, as well as her running mate, Marisol Johnson.
“I would love to order the ballot reprinted. I would love to order the stickers. I just don’t see how I can do it,” Mulford said articulating a fine line between his personal wishes and what he interpreted as prevailing law in the state of Maryland.
“I find myself sitting and wishing I could do things that I can’t,” Mulford said to Ervin as he referenced a May 2 ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals that prevented the ballot from being reprinted to remove former Sen. Nathaniel Oaks’ name after his guilty plea to federal bribery charges.
For now, Ervin’s identity as a gubernatorial candidate in the 2018 Maryland race will appear as a footnote at the bottom of material distributed on-line and in the mail to voters before the upcoming state primary elections and on signs at polling stations throughout the state during the in-person voting period. Ervin was elevated to the top of the ticket when her running mate, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, died unexpectedly May 10.
“All our options remain open,” Ervin said during a briefing following the case.
“This has been a very long and emotional journey. I still believe that the voters lost today. The mitigation of putting a sign in the voting booth does not go far enough,” Ervin said.
Johnson, Ervin’s running mate said that the state of Maryland has not heard the last about the Election Board’s failure to formally list the Ervin-Johnson ticket on the ballot.
“The Board of Elections is discoursing us to be a footnote in history. We are literally a footnote at each ballot box. We are standing here, and we will no longer be footnotes,” said Johnson.
“The possibility of creating confusion if something did not go right is not in the public interest,” Mulford said defending his decision to deny new election ballots or stickers listing the Ervin-Johnson ticket.
“I can’t imagine turning this election upside down,” he added.
Linda Lamone, Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator, said the vendor who supplies Maryland’s election ballots did not have enough certified paper to re-print ballots. Lamone decided after consulting local election offices that there was not enough time to test other grades of paper or stickers as an option.
In a lengthy opinion, Mulford said Lamone did not violate Ervin’s first or 14th Amendment Constitutional rights or her rights as a citizen of Maryland when the Board of Elections decided not to reprint ballots or order stickers bearing Ervin’s name.
“The State Administrator’s decision that there was insufficient time is not unreasonable. That power is given to the State Administrator,” Mulford said to the court.
But Ervin’s attorney, Mariana C. Cordier, said Lamone continues to drag her feet by refusing to reprint ballots or even test whether stickers could be used in accordance with Ervin’s request.
“She always was banking on just doing a notice,” Cordier said. “She has not made in this state any provisions for adding extra ballots,” Cordier said.
“She hasn’t made any provision of any independent testing or due diligence with regards to the stickers. She’s not following the law.”
Currently Kevin Kamenetz and Valerie Ervin are still listed on the official Maryland election ballot. The State Board of Elections created a notice announcing the Ervin/Johnson ticket and instructions about supporting this ticket appearing on the Board of Election’s website as follows:
* On May 10, 2018, Kevin Kamenetz, a candidate for Governor for the Democratic Party, died. The former candidacy of Kevin Kamenetz and Valerie Ervin has been replaced by the candidacy of Valerie Ervin and Marisol Johnson. If you wish to vote for Valerie Ervin and Marisol Johnson, mark your ballot for Kevin Kamenetz and Valerie Ervin. All votes cast for Kevin Kamenetz and Valerie Ervin will be counted as votes for Valerie Ervin and Marisol Johnson.