An Anne Arundel County judge Tuesday denied a request from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin to have her name printed on the June 26 primary ballot. Ervin was the running mate of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died suddenly May 10.
Ervin was seeking to have ballots reprinted to show her name, running in place of Kamenetz and to reflect her running mate is Marisol Johnson. Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge William Mulford ruling holds Kamenetz’s name on the ballot. Mulford sided with the State Board of Elections and said he didn’t believe there was enough time to reprint the ballot in time for the primary. Mulford cited another remedy to apply stickers to ballots to show the change without adequate testing could gum up voting machines and potentially cause “havoc.”
“Marisol Johnson and I are here fighting on behalf of all of Maryland voters in the Democratic primary, who we believe still will be disenfranchised because of the confusion that this judge’s decision is going to cause,” said Ervin.
Speaking to reporters, State Board Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said she was satisfied the judge's decision. “I’m very appreciative that the judge ruled in such an expeditious manner,” said Lamone. “As you all know, early voting is almost upon us--and it was very tough situation. But, we all had tough decisions to make and I’m just happy we’re able to move on.”
But is Ervin’s fight really over? The former Montgomery County Council member’s campaign may appeal Judge Mulford’s ruling. Elections officials say they will post notices in voting booths and at polling places about Kamenetz's death and tell voters that Ervin is running in his place and that Johnson is her running mate.
Noting the significance of the matter, Judge Mulford cited a ruling by the state's highest court last month in an opposite decision. The court said that former State Senator Nathaniel Oak’s name senator's name could not be taken off the ballot — even though Oaks pleaded guilty to federal charges — after state lawyers argued that ordering the change would disrupt the election process. While Mulford said he sympathized with Ervin's situation, he said he didn't see how he could rule in her favor.
"I wish I could help you, but I just can't," Mulford said.
Ervin is one of seven major candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge popular incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in November. Several of her Democratic rivals have said they, too, think the state should reprint the ballots. Last week, The Maryland Democratic Party issued a statement supporting Ervin’s to be listed on the paper ballots issued to voters.