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The State of Reform
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MOST READ; Tristiaña Hinton/The Fulcrum

Can you spot the gerrymandered congressional district?

Think you can recognize what congressional districts look like? Take this quiz to see if you can pick out which pieces were drawn on maps by legislatures and which ones are abstract doodles created by our staff.

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Gov. Larry Hogan instructed local election officials to keep all early polling places open this fall

Governor's 'normal' election plan could cost Maryland $21 million

Gov. Larry Hogan's decision to move forward with a "normal" general election in Maryland will come at a steep cost to the state, especially if the federal government doesn't lend a hand like it did for the primary.

The State Board of Elections estimated Tuesday that the governor's plan will cost almost $21 million. The amount is not entirely in the state budget because much of the money would go to print and pay postage on a surge of absentee vote applications, ballots and return envelopes — plus cleaning supplies and protective gear at 1,600 polling places. None of that was expected before the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats, local election officials and voting rights advocates have all raised concerns that the plan by Hogan, the Republican governor of a lopsidedly Democratic state, is setting Maryland up for failure. They worry it costs too much, could confuse voters and will stretch election workers too thin. But Hogan, who's already eying a run for president in 2024, has stood firm despite the pushback, saying his plan will give voters options.

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In Baltimore, winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the election. Catherine Pugh won the 2016 primary with just 37 percent of the vote.

Solution for one big city's blue monopoly? Open primaries, study says.

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News.

Baltimore is a one-party town. It hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1967. Registered Democrats vastly outnumber any other party registration, having a tenfold advantage over the GOP. It's as blue as a city can get.

The consequence is that November elections are inconsequential. The winner of the closed Democratic mayoral primary, for instance, might as well be sworn in the next day, and he or she can win with a marginal share of the total registered voting population. Voters outside the Democratic Party have no voice in the process.

A new study says that, to strengthen political competition and improve city elections, Baltimore should implement nonpartisan reform. Specifically, George Washington University political scientist Christopher Warshaw says, a "'top-two primary' is the reform most likely to improve Baltimore's mayoral elections. This reform would increase turnout and electoral competition."

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Poll workers in Bloomington, Ind., wear face shields and hand gloves as precautions against Covid-19 during Tuesday's primary votting.

Tuesday’s voting delivers big warnings about readiness for fall

Major worries expressed by election officials and good-government groups all came true on the biggest day of voting since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country: absentee ballots that were never delivered, long lines for those who voted in person and results that have not been fully tabulated a day later.

At the same time, records were broken Tuesday in several states for turnout in a primary, with citizens seemingly determined to cast their ballots despite the extraordinary circumstance of holding elections during both a deadly pandemic and a time of violent civil unrest.

The principal takeaway is that plenty of work needs to be completed and improvements made in just five months, or else the country may not be able to conduct a safe and reliable presidential election — and potentially one with record turnout.

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