Maryland officials say election proceedings were secure

Published on: November 25, 2022 6:00 AM EST

A Baltimore resident casts their vote on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, at Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School. Polling locations for the general election remain open until 8 p.m.

Federal and state officials and democracy watchdogs monitoring Maryland’s November elections confirmed the fairness and validity of the voting process during early voting and on Election Day, according to federal and state authorities.

State and local authorities combined again in November to observe elections and protect the right to vote, a longstanding practice in Maryland and nationally. Interfering with an individual’s right to vote violates state and federal laws.

The Maryland State Board of Elections said in a statement they are “unaware of any incident that had a material effect on the 2022 Gubernatorial General Election. The entire election process was free, fair and secure.”

“State and local election officials monitored activities during early voting and on election day and continuously shared information with federal, State and local partners,” read the State Board of Elections’ statement. “While election officials were busy helping voters exercise their right to vote and answering the usual voting-related questions, there were no voter inquiries that indicated a threat to the election process.”

Though incidences of election fraud remain rare, unfounded allegations of compromised elections have spiked in recent years, most notably in the last two presidential elections. Former President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to cast doubt on the 2020 results despite reports from his own administration that the election was the most secure in American history.

Two 2020 presidential election deniers led November’s Republican ticket in Maryland — Trump-backed candidate for governor Dan Cox and attorney general candidate Michael Peroutka. Cox has repeatedly rejected Trump’s defeat, and ahead of the election refused to acknowledge whether he would accept the November result. Cox conceded to Moore the day after Election Day.

Peroutka questioned his own loss — by more than 560,000 votes — to Democrat Anthony Brown, and on Nov. 10 said on his social media accounts that he did not plan to concede. Peroutka claimed election irregularities existed without providing evidence or examples. And according to the Brown campaign, Peroutka has not reached out to Brown to concede.

The State Board of Elections, in a statement, said they were aware of Peroutka’s allegations.

“SBE takes all such reports seriously and works with the local boards of elections to determine whether referral of reported activities to the Office of the State Prosecutor is warranted,” the statement said. “At this time, SBE is not aware of any such incidents. Marylanders can be confident in the integrity of the state’s election processes and that any potentially inappropriate activity will be thoroughly investigated.”

This November, election watchers, including federal law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations, publicized phone hotlines ready to field calls. While phones did ring, no major issues were reported.

In connection with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Election Day Program, Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron appointed two assistant U.S. attorneys to oversee how the Maryland district handled election issues. The district election officials monitored threats of violence against election workers, complaints of voting rights issues, election fraud and threats to election officials or staff, according to an October news release.

Marcia Lubin, spokeswoman for Barron’s office, said in a statement, “Our office did not receive any reports of voter intimidation, fraud, issues at the polls, etc., either from election day or early voting.”

The FBI also assigned special agents in field offices across the country to take calls of reported election fraud.

FBI Baltimore field office spokesperson Shayne Buchwald said in a statement, “Although, the FBI’s standard practice is to neither confirm nor deny any investigation or comment on any tips we may receive, we take all election related threats seriously.”

Buchwald added that the FBI works in partnership with federal, state and local partners to ensure a safe and secure election.

The staff of local nonprofits and state political party headquarters assisted voters and election judges calling with general questions and safety concerns.

Joanne Antoine, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said about one-quarter of around 200 calls received by her nonprofit democracy watchdog organization were related in some way to what a caller interpreted as voter intimidation. She characterized the majority of calls to the hotline as general inquiries about polling locations and mail-in ballot questions.

However, the election overall, Antoine said, “went fairly smoothly.”

Both major state political parties fielded calls. Corine Frank, executive director of the Maryland GOP, said party Chairman Dirk Haire “addressed a handful of issues” with the State Board of Elections but Frank did not immediately respond to requests asking her to characterize the issues.

Brandon Stoneburg, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, said the party set up a hotline staffed with about five to seven people from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Election Day. The hotline volunteers received calls throughout the day for the requests and complaints generally heard each year, Stoneburg said, such as requests for rides to the polls, long lines or someone electioneering too close to the polls, “but nothing that caused suspicion or raised a red flag.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.