By Kathy Knotts
While there are multiple ways to participate in the 2020 General Election, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Maryland State Board of Elections encourages all eligible Marylanders to cast mail-in ballots. Anyone registered to vote in Maryland can vote a mail-in ballot (previously referred to as absentee voting).
Applications for mail-in ballots have been mailed to eligible voters in all counties. The application includes a postage-paid return envelope, making it easy and free to request a ballot.
Some voters who requested a ballot prior to Aug. 6 may still receive a ballot application in the mail. If this applies to you, go online to verify your application has been processed. It is not necessary to send in two ballot requests.
Any eligible voter who does not automatically receive a ballot application by mail may request one online or by printing and returning by mail or fax the request form on the State Board of Elections’ website.
All requests for a mail-in ballot must be received by Oct. 20. Voters should allow for at least five business days for the Postal Service to deliver the application to the local board of elections. Requests may also be delivered in person to your local elections board office, but be aware that some offices are still closed due to the pandemic.
Ballots will begin to arrive by mail in September. They can be mailed back in the prepaid envelope provided or dropped off at a ballot drop off box or your local board of elections. You cannot email or fax your voted mail-in ballot.
For those who wish to vote in person, early voting centers will be open and some neighborhood polling places—but not all—will be open on Election Day, Nov. 3. Polling location notices will be mailed in October. These may differ from your usual voting sites, as the State Board of Elections will be using 360 voting centers as an alternative to opening the usual 1,600 polling places, due to a shortage of election judges. These voting centers can be used by any voter in a county. Find your voting center site for Anne Arundel County at www.aacounty.org/boards-and-commissions/board-of-elections/. The Early Voting Center for Calvert County registered voters is located in the lower level conference rooms of the Community Resources Building in Prince Frederick.
Early voting runs Oct. 26 through Nov. 2. Each early voting center will be open continuously from 7 am to 8 pm each day. Anyone in line at 8 pm will be allowed to vote.
Residents may still register to vote or update address and information by Oct. 13. https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1.
“It is essential that all eligible Maryland residents have the opportunity to participate in the general election being held Nov. 3,” said Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone. “For those who have not yet registered to vote, we strongly encourage you to do so. If you have already registered, please take this opportunity to review your voter registration information online and make any necessary updates. This will help ensure you have a seamless voting experience.”