ANNAPOLIS — An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge ruled Monday against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin’s request to reprint more than a million ballots with 10 days before early voting begins in the primary election, saying such a move would “create chaos.”
Judge William C. Mulford II said he sympathized with the complaint filed by Ervin — the former running mate of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz who took up his gubernatorial bid after his sudden death last month — but the timing and the law doesn’t allow for new ballots and stickers to publish the names of Ervin and running mate Marisol Johnson.
“I would like to help you, but I can’t,” Mulford told Ervin. “It is not in the public interest. I can’t imagine turning this election upside down.”
Ervin, who decided May 17 to run for governor and chose Johnson as a running mate, filed a lawsuit 12 days later to challenge the state Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone’s decision to not reprint ballots because of “insufficient time.”
Ervin decided to replace Kamanetz on the ballot after his death on May 10. Some voters have already received sample primary ballots with the Kamenetz/Ervin ticket listed.
However, the judge said Lamone and her staff worked on strategies after Kamenetz’s death to ensure voters would know Ervin and Marisol are on the Democratic ticket.
Before election officials decided to post notices for voters of how to vote for Ervin and Johnson, the judge said Lamone informed local election boards before Ervin filed to run for governor. For instance, Mulford said, officials posted information on social media and ordered audio recordings for the National Federation of the Blind.
Lamone also corresponded with all 24 jurisdictions in the state and said 13 wouldn’t have time to test and proof new ballots before the first day of early voting on June 14, the judge said. Documents he read didn’t state specifically which jurisdictions.
Lamone said it cost about $3.7 million to print Democratic and Republican ballots.
Asked by Ervin attorney Mariana Cordier how long would it take to reprint ballots, Lamone said 45 days.
Mulford likened the case to the court’s decision last month to keep former Sen. Nathaniel Oaks of Baltimore City on the ballot in his district, despite Oaks resigning in March after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges.
Ervin, a former Montgomery County councilwoman and county school board member, said outside the courthouse that comparing her request to the Oaks case “is comparing an apple to an orange.”
“Here’s a guy that is a convicted felon and he was running in a local Baltimore City election,” Ervin said. “We are running statewide. We’re not felons. We are citizens of this great state of Maryland and we just want the opportunity for our names to show up on the ballot.”
Johnson, who owns an insurance business and resides in Baltimore County, disagreed with the judge’s assessment that chaos would ensue by changing the ballots.
“People are looking at this [decision],” she said, adding that the judge is underestimating the imminent confusion before the June 26 primary, even without honoring Ervin’s request. “June 27, when the election is finalized, will be pandemonium. Let the Maryland voters decide who wins, not the Board of Elections.”
Cordier said she and her client will discuss whether to appeal the judge’s ruling.