U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

October 31, 2020

Countering Voter Intimidation and Misinformation 

Dear Fellow Marylander:

Every American has the responsibility to vote in the ongoing election. Every American should also be informed and empowered to take action in the case of any problems that they encounter in exercising that right, including disinformation from political campaigns, foreign governments, or other malicious actors seeking to undermine our democratic process. We have the collective power to ensure that every vote counts in this incredibly important election. 

In Maryland, the state and local boards of elections are working closely with state and local law enforcement to respond to and to be prepared for any instances of voter misinformation, intimidation, or other threats. It is the duty of election judges to maintain order and keep the peace at polling places. Please report any election-related concerns to the State Board of Elections at 410-269-2840 or 1-800-222-8683, or email them at info.sbe@maryland.gov. You can also contact your local board of elections. In cases of violence or threat of violence at a polling place, call 911 immediately to make a report to local law enforcement.

To report instances of voter intimidation or harassment to state officials, contact the Maryland Office of the Attorney General at 443-961-2830 or toll free at 833-282-0960, or by email at electionswork@oag.state.md.us.

Federal laws also protect your right to vote free from acts of intimidation or harassment. This might include questioning or challenging voters at the polls, or photographing or videotaping voters. Federal law protects the rights of voters with disabilities to be assisted by a person of their choice. United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur has appointed a District Election Officer to oversee complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with state authorities, the FBI, and the Department of Justice. Marylanders can report potential violations of federal voting rights laws to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/

In terms of voter disinformation, federal authorities recommend that Marylanders utilize tools offered by social media companies to report posts that seem to include incorrect information about voting and elections through the platform. Marylanders may report disinformation regarding the manner, time, or place of voting in Maryland elections to the FBI Baltimore Field Office at 410-265-8080 or submit a tip on the FBI website at https://www.fbi.gov/tips.

There are also a number of nonpartisan voting rights organizations that are doing incredible work to protect the right to vote. The following phone numbers can provide assistance in resolving and reporting any Election Day problems. 

  • 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
  • 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
  • 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
  • 1-844-YALLA-US (Arabic)
  • 301-818-VOTE (American Sign Language video)
  • Or you can text “Our Vote” to 97779

The League of Women Voters of Maryland publishes a non-partisan 411 voter guide which includes materials on candidates and ballot questions, which can be tailored to your local jurisdiction (www.lwvmd.org). You are always welcome to contact my office at 202-224-4524 or by email through my website.

An important note: This week the State Board of Elections updated its guidance to voters who have received or requested a mail-in ballot but have not yet returned it. You now should use an authorized ballot drop box to return completed ballots. As reports mount of delayed mail delivery nationwide, drop boxes remain a safe, convenient and reliable way for voters to cast their ballots during the pandemic.

In the long run, there are a number of changes that I have advocated to safeguard our elections and to prevent voter disenfranchisement. I joined colleagues in re-introducing the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill to restore the landmark Voting Rights Act and end suppression of minority voters, and renaming it after civil rights hero John Lewis. My Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act would create penalties for individuals who engage in voter intimidation and charge the Attorney General with ensuring that states are taking adequate steps to counter voter intimidation. I have also introduced the Democracy Restoration Act to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals who are currently disenfranchised by state law. These solutions, and many others I support, are included in the For the People Act, Democrats’ landmark bill to ensure that our democracy works for all.

Thank you again for your civic engagement in combatting the threats of voter intimidation, misinformation, and disinformation. I am committed to doing anything that I can to address these problems to make sure that all Americans can vote without interference and that our government holds a free and fair election.



Ben Cardin