Election 2020 will pose unique challenges

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Voters in Maryland and across the nation will face new situations on Nov. 3.

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland residents who plan to vote in the General Election on Nov. 3 will be facing some unique challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as recent changes within the U.S. Postal Service that could delay delivery of mail-in ballots.

Concerns about “the impending train wreck of an election” were voiced by Comptroller Peter Franchot during the Aug. 12 Maryland Board of Public Works meeting, but state elections officials told him they are actively working to provide a safe and secure election.

Voters are strongly encouraged to vote by mail-in ballot to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Ballots should be mailed in early in case there are post office delays. Voters also will be able to bring their completed ballots to a drop box in the county to avoid the mail system altogether.
Voting in the General Election will be different than in June’s Maryland Primary. Here’s the latest on what voters need to know about mail-in ballots and in-person voting:

Obtaining a mail-in ballot
Registered voters will receive applications for mail-in ballots by mail beginning this week. The applications also may be downloaded on the state elections website: elections.maryland.gov.
The applications also are available at the Dorchester County Board of Elections office. Once the application is submitted, the local elections office will mail out a ballot in early to mid-October. The deadline to request a ballot is Oct. 20.

Voting by mail-in ballot
After marking the ballots indicating their choice of candidates, voters need to sign the return envelope and seal it with the ballot inside. Elections officials stress that mailed ballots should be sent in as early as possible in the event of postal service delays.
The ballots also can be placed in a secure drop box.

Election Day voting
Polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, will be open for in-person voting from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. To find the polling place nearest you, visit voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/PollingPlaceSearch

Counting the ballots
Normally, absentee ballots are not counted until after the election, but that could change this year. The Maryland State Board of Elections is expected to allow county election offices to start scanning the mail-in ballots as soon as 30 days prior to the election, with the results embargoed until Election Night. That way mail-in votes can be included with the in-person vote counts from early voting and Election Day.

Early voting
In-person early voting for the General Election will take place at the Dorchester County Office Building, at 501 Court Lane in Cambridge, Oct. 22-29 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. State elections officials said they will accommodate anyone who wishes to cast their ballot safely and in person.
It’s not too late to register
Maryland residents who are U.S. citizens may register to vote online at elections.maryland.gov or in person at the Dorchester County Board of Elections office.

Residents also can go to a voting center during early voting or to their assigned polling place on Election Day and bring a document that proves where they live, such as a MVA-issued license, ID card, or change of address card, or your paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or other government document with name and address.