[the Board’s lawyer]

Maryland Election Board Quietly Changes Rules, Threatens Legal Action Against Those Who Challenge Elections Based on Voter Rolls

The Baltimore County Board of Elections (BOE) quietly amended Regulation .06, which governs the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for the purchase of voter registration lists. The change, proposed on February 9, 2023, and later adopted on April 7, became effective on July 10, Uncover DC reported.

Kate Sullivan, a Maryland citizen actively involved in voter canvassing and scrutinizing voter rolls, has raised concerns about recent amendments to an NDA governing the use of voter lists.

During an unrecorded BOE meeting on July 26, board attorney Andrew Bailey read the updated NDA language. According to Kate Sullivan, the board’s presentation of the NDA was conspicuously orchestrated.

Sullivan recalls, “He stood up, looking directly at me, and first said, ‘This is the oath that you sign. We want to read it to all those who purchased the list.’ He did not say there’s updated language. He did not say this is a new oath. He just said this is the oath you sign when you purchase these lists.”

She added, “I felt that the oath he [the Board’s lawyer] read was slightly different from the ones I’ve signed in the past. And sure enough, I went home, did some research, and discovered that the oath language had indeed been changed.”

Sullivan had been directing a legal, nonpartisan volunteer canvass to help Baltimore County clean and properly maintain its voter rolls. Despite being adequately certified to conduct the canvass, she was asked to cease her efforts by the Director of the Baltimore County BOE, Ruie Marie La Voie, citing complaints about the canvassing. Sullivan believes that her activism in challenging the board’s maintenance of voter rolls may have played a role in the change in regulation language.

According to Sullivan, the amended NDA has “new language [that] was a lot more threatening.” She describes the prior oath as essentially being a promise not to use voter lists for commercial solicitations, like door-to-door sales.

However, the new language potentially threatens legal action against those who challenge elections based on the voter rolls they purchased. “It was making it very clear that we understood that if we used this list to challenge elections, then we could be responsible for a misdemeanor or be charged in some way,” Sullivan explained.

WATCH:

UncoverDC obtained both the old and the new versions of the NDA:

Old NDA Sullivan has signed for the last three years:

Under penalty of perjury, I hereby declare, as required by Election Law Article, § 3-506, Annotated Code of Maryland, that the list of registered voters for which I am applying is not intended to be used for commercial solicitation or for any other purpose not related to the electoral process. I am aware that, if I use the list for commercial solicitation or for any other purpose not related to the electoral process, or make the list available to the public or third parties or publish or republish the list in a way that allows it to be used in that manner, I will be guilty, upon conviction of a misdemeanor and subject to punishment under Election Law Article, Title 16, Annotated Code of Maryland.

New NDA:

Under penalty of perjury, I hereby declare, as required by Election Law Article, § 3-506, Annotated Code of Maryland, that the list of registered voters for which I am applying is not intended to be used for commercial solicitation or for any other purpose not related to the electoral process. I am aware that, if I use the list for commercial solicitation or for any other purpose not related to the electoral process, or make the list available to the public or third parties or publish or republish the list in a way that allows it to be used in that manner, I will be guilty, upon conviction of a misdemeanor and subject to punishment under Election Law Article, Title 16, Annotated Code of Maryland.

I also acknowledge and understand that I cannot use the data for any purpose unrelated to the electoral process. I can use the data to register voters, form a political party, qualify as a candidate for public office, circulate a petition, conduct elections and recount, cast and count ballots, finance a campaign, and other activities that meet the definition of “electoral process” as defined in COMAR 33.03.02.01B(1). I will not use this data for investigations into an illegal or suspected illegal infractions or violations of voters’ behaviors in a specific election.

Sullivan argued that the amendment to the NDA is a complete violation of state and federal law.

Federal law mandates that states must maintain accurate voter rolls and make them publicly available to citizens “for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters…”

“Voter Rolls, by law, are supposed to be current and accurate. They rarely ever are,” UncoverDC reported.

“Each State shall maintain for at least 2 years and shall make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters, except to the extent that such records relate to a declination to register to vote or to the identity of a voter registration agency through which any particular voter is registered.”

Sullivan is not standing by idly. “We have a group of citizens writing letters to the State Board of Elections. What we’re actually asking for is for them to clarify their language,” she said. They are demanding clear terms that won’t penalize citizens for challenging elections, a move Sullivan argues is part of the electoral process. Nicolee Ambrose, a representative of the Maryland GOP, is also said to be closely involved.

According to the press release by Maryland Voter Integrity Group, “This new oath removes any mechanism for cleaning up outdated voter rolls because if the canvasser uses the data for investigations into an illegal or suspected illegal infractions or violations of voters’ behaviors in a specific election, it is the canvasser who will then be guilty, upon conviction of a misdemeanor and subject to punishment under Election Law Article, Title 16, Annotated Code of Maryland.”

Read below:

More from Uncover DC:

Sullivan presented the final results of her canvass to the Baltimore County BOE in mid-May. She and her volunteers canvassed over a thousand voters and collected data showing 61 inaccurate registrations. Those incorrect registrations represent 14.59% of the people they were able to verify. An extrapolation of the data across Baltimore County represents roughly 80,000 registrations. The board’s response was neutral at best. Sullivan’s canvass results are shown in detail below:

Sullivan Volunteer Canvas

The canvass results says Sullivan, potentially represent an “appalling level of exposure to the risks of fraudulent voting,” especially in light of the State’s use of the Universal Mail-in ballot. Sullivan estimates it is over $35,000 in postage fees alone “to mail a ballot to a bad registration address.” Sullivan also noted in the meeting that the Maryland taxpayers are footing a huge bill to process ballots for bad registrations:

Sullivan Volunteer Canvas

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