Would-be elected office holders have less than seven weeks to clear the necessary hurdles to get their names on the ballot for the primary elections this summer, local elections officials said recently.
Feb. 25 is the deadline for submitting filing fees and petitions in time to be listed on ballots for the June 24 primary, a date that marks an off-year election change from the usual September primary.
Meanwhile, local election officials said they are making sure polling equipment is functioning properly.
This year, due to election cycle changes made by state lawmakers, the primary election will be held on June 24 across the state with early voting beginning on June 12 and continuing through June 19.
“We have started preparation by testing, repairing, and upgrading equipment where needed,” said Armistead B. Crawley Jones Sr., current director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections. “Voter registration, the changing of addresses and changing of names happen daily. We are also making sure all of our polling sites are still available for us in June because quite a few of them are in schools.”
“A prepared voter is a good voter,” said Jones. “You have a list of candidates and you need to do your homework and be prepared to ‘pull the lever’ for the person of your choice.
So far, the gubernatorial field includes Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, along with Democrats Heather Mizeur, Ralph Jaffe, Charles U. Smith, and Republican Brian Charles Vaeth.
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) will have to fend off Republican William H. Campbell to hold onto the post which he has held since 2007. So far, Judge Justin J. King is the sole candidate for the third judicial circuit.
Marvin Cheatham, former president of Baltimore Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), filed his application to become a representative for the 40th legislative district on Sept. 30 of last year.
Cheatham, a former election specialist said he is indifferent to the election cycle change as long as voters are able to use election day to improve their representation in Annapolis.
Cheatham said he believes getting voters registered and informed about the primary is most important because this election deals with several issues key to improving Baltimore City.
“It deals with unemployment, crime and violence, education, and health,” he said, adding that changes to the election cycle could possibly help non-incumbent candidates.
“I like the idea that it’s in June,” said the former electoral specialist. “It shortens the amount of time the incumbent can raise money and maybe that’s a good thing: they can’t force lobbyists to give their money while they’re in session.”
“The tables are kind of even. They don’t have that opportunity for 90 days to not only go to Annapolis but to strong-arm lobbyists during the session.”
Regardless of when the election is, Cheatham said ultimately, the responsibility lands on the candidate and the parties to encourage voters to register and go out to polls.
“We really have to do a good job with voter education,” said state Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, a supporter of the election cycle change. “This will be different for not only candidates but for voters as well.”
“We’ve moved up the primary in Maryland and the impact is that candidates usually have all summer to campaign. However, we don’t want the switch to impact voter turnout.”
Braveboy, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2007, is also looking forward to the primary election.
The delegate is running for attorney general, a position she said will allow her to serve the same public from a different platform.
“Every election is important but this is very critical because we have so many people around our state suffering from economic injustices and we have a lot of unemployment in certain communities,” she said.
“We really need to make sure that we are electing people who are understand the priorities of the people and are willing to articulate a vision that is consistent with the values of the people of this state.”
Instead of holding the primary in September, voters will head to the polls in June12.
The hours for Sunday early voting have been extended and there are now eight early voting days, concluding on June 19, instead of just five.