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Judge to decide if Maryland’s hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots can start being counted before Election Day

A court filing that would allow Maryland to begin counting mail-in ballots early for this fall’s gubernatorial election lies in the hands of a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge following a hearing Tuesday. The legal action, filed by the Maryland State Board of Elections, hopes to avoid delays in results similar to those experienced during the July primary as officials counted a deluge of mail-in ballots that have become commonplace since the coronavirus pandemic. Current law, which predates the widespread use of mail-in ballots, only allows such ballots to be opened and tallied starting the Thursday after Election Day. That’s the latest start in the nation to the counting of mail-in ballots.

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Maryland Senate committee probes agency leaders on food benefits enrollment, theft

Lawmakers pressed the state’s social services agency at a committee hearing on Tuesday for the cause of a steep — and growing — enrollment drop in the state’s food assistance program and increasing issues with benefits fraud. The hearing, convened by the Senate Finance Committee, marked a formal confrontation between legislators and the Hogan administration over mounting reports that food insecure families lost their benefits because of administrative obstacles stemming from within the Maryland Department of Human Services. Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is administered by DHS, plummeted after the agency reinstated a federal requirement and administrative process, called redetermination, which obligates recipients to prove their eligibility every 12 months.

Group begins work to determine how best to select judges in Maryland

A workgroup created by Maryland’s judicial branch to undertake studies and conduct hearings on how best to choose judges kicked off its effort with an initial meeting Monday evening. Formally titled the Legislative Committee Workgroup to Study Judicial Selection, the group — consisting of representatives of interested organizations as well as attorneys and current and retired judges — will issue a report “on the current state of judicial elections” and make recommendations “for change or to retain the status quo,” according to a statement on its website. The group has an end date of March 1, 2023 — although it appears to be aiming to wrap up earlier, with a tentative last meeting set for Jan. 9.

What the Goucher College poll tells us about opinions leading into the Maryland general election

Repeating polls in the lead-up to an election — for all the shortcomings of polling — allows us to see how political opinion is changing or coalescing. Taking multiple snapshots of the same electorate builds a fuller picture of what people believe, adding confidence that the views expressed in one poll reflect the reality of held opinion. This time, the Goucher College Poll provides a great check on itself and extends what we learned about abortion from the primary poll. Progressives were broadly more motivated to vote after the Supreme Court struck down the national right to abortion with the court’s June Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

Carroll commissioners get updates on projects funded by $32 million of federal pandemic money

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners got an update from staff last week on how the county’s allocation of federal COVID-19 pandemic funds are being spent. The federal government’s Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund has provided $19.53 billion in support to local governments across the country. Carroll County’s grants manager Debby Sandiford reminded commissioners that the county’s allocation was just over $32.7 million, all of which has been allocated to various projects. The county has spent or obligated about $12 million of those funds. The deadline to obligate the money is the end of 2024, Sandiford said, and the deadline to spend the money is the end of 2026.

Five takeaways from The Baltimore Banner’s statewide poll

In the first nonpartisan public opinion poll of the general election season, more than 1,000 Marylanders answered questions ranging from whom they plan to vote for to the top issues they’re considering. Here are some takeaways from the poll, conducted by Goucher College in partnership with The Baltimore Banner and WYPR radio.

‘It’s not perfect’: Baltimore City Council gives initial approval for police redistricting plan despite constituent concerns

The Baltimore City Council advanced a proposal Monday for the first major change in the city’s police districts in more than 60 years, setting up a final vote next month. The new map, drafted by Baltimore Police with input from Mayor Brandon Scott’s office and members of City Council, would shrink the size of the city’s sprawling Northeastern District, the city’s largest by population and police workload.

 

Read More: Baltimore Sun
Harford County has new acting director of county law department

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has named Meaghan Alegi as acting director of the county’s law department, following the departure of previous director Melissa Lambert, according to a news release. Alegi, of Bel Air, is a lifelong Harford County resident and has a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. In 2003, she was sworn into the Maryland Bar, and in 2010, she began working for Harford County government after working in a private practice.

Read More: The Aegis
East Street restaurant seeks expansion, seating change

The Frederick pizza restaurant Pistarro’s is looking for permission from the city to change its outdoor seating area and add space to its North East Street location. The restaurant would like to move a tented outdoor seating area that was set up during the COVID-19 pandemic from the front corner of its building to the rear corner. It also wants to extend the patio by about 20 feet along the sidewalk of East Street, and add 940 square feet, David Lingg of Lingg Property Consulting told the city’s Planning Commission at a workshop Monday.

How a public defender-turned-prosecutor helped free Adnan Syed

When Becky Feldman filed a petition last week to vacate the conviction of Adnan Syed, it set off a frenzy: For the past eight years, his murder conviction had been one of the most closely watched in the country, pored over in court challenges, podcasts and an HBO documentary. Two days later, Feldman was spending Friday afternoon at a similar hearing without any fanfare, setting free a man who had served almost 30 years for a murder in Sandtown-Winchester that took place when he was 15 years old.

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