A District 4 candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates may have been too close to a polling location when taking pictures and recording a video last week.
Republican Dan Cox was seen recording a video on Oct. 25 outside Thurmont Regional Library 45 minutes before early voting was set to end that day. The video has since been taken off Facebook.
Photos show Cox and his wife on the sidewalk outside the building beyond a sign stating, “Notice: electioneering beyond this point prohibited by law,” while holding a phone in the air. The State Board of Elections has received at least two complaints about Cox’s video and photos, which it will review, said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance.
“Electioneering is campaigning for or against a candidate or ballot issue. It includes handing out fliers, holding signs, and encouraging voters to support or oppose a candidate or ballot question,” according to the State Board of Elections website.
Electioneering complaints are common, DeMarinis said Thursday.
Cox, who is running for state delegate, confirmed on Thursday that he and his wife participated in early voting before sharing a date night.
“We exercised our right to vote and absolutely appreciated the opportunity,” Cox said.
He has not been notified by the State Board of Elections of a complaint and declined to answer any more of The News-Post’s questions.
Frederick County Election Director Stuart Harvey said he is aware of the complaint. Because electioneering limits are set in state law, however, it is up to the state Board of Elections to review any alleged violation, he said.
The State Board of Elections will review the submitted evidence to see if there could be a violation of state law, in which case the matter would be sent to the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor, DeMarinis said.
DeMarinis could not comment Thursday on whether the complaints against Cox would be sent to the prosecutor’s office.
Harvey said it was his understanding the polling staff at Thurmont Regional Library did not see Cox record the video.
Adam Umak, who runs the Frederick County Fact Check page on Facebook, shared photos and screenshots from the video — time-stamped 7:17 p.m. when polls were scheduled to close at 8 p.m. — with Harvey, a text exchange shows. One of Harvey’s staff, who is familiar with Thurmont, later confirmed Cox “definitely was inside the no electioneering area,” according to the texts.
Umak then submitted a complaint against Cox to the State Board of Elections on Oct. 26 at 10:18 p.m.
An electioneering line is established 100 feet outside the entrance and exit of every early polling center and polling place. It is illegal to canvass, electioneer or post any campaign materials in the polling location or beyond the line, according to Maryland’s election law.
Polling staff can enforce electioneering limits, but they have to witness it, Harvey said.
“If we see it, we’ll correct it,” Harvey said.
Voters are required to “immediately leave the early voting center or polling place” after voting, according to the State Board of Elections website.
Electioneering is a misdemeanor offense in Maryland, which can result in a $50 to $500 fine or imprisonment of no more than 60 days.
State delegates serve four-year terms in the General Assembly with a base salary of $50,330. Three delegates represent District 4 and six candidates are running for the seats, including Republican incumbent Barrie Ciliberti, Republican Jesse Pippy, Cox, Democrat Ysela Bravo, Democrat Lois Jarman and Democrat Darrin Ryan Smith.