updated 11/6/2006 2:20:31 PM ET 2006-11-06T19:20:31

A coalition of attorneys’ groups and civil rights organizations will consider going to court if the state Board of Elections denies a request to extend the deadline for voters to mail absentee ballots.

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More than 188,000 Maryland residents had requested absentee ballots as of Friday, according to elections officials. But some voters still have not received them, and without an extension, ballots postmarked later than Monday would not be counted for Tuesday’s election.

The Maryland Election Protection Coalition has asked the elections board to extend the deadline by 24 hours.

“This is such a commonsense, easy thing to do in the face of a real problem,” said David Rocah, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. “It’s somewhat inconceivable to me that the board isn’t willing to act.”

Deputy Elections Administrator Ross Goldstein said Saturday that the board has not formally acted on the request, although Goldstein said two of five board members told him they are not inclined to make the change.

The state’s September primary was marred by several problems, including human error and new electronically generated poll lists used to check in voters.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich and others have urged residents to vote absentee because of questions about the reliability of the state’s election system, driving the record ballot requests that have sometimes overwhelmed local elections boards.

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