CommunityWilliam J. Ford

General Election Will Be Properly Staffed, Md. Officials Claim

The coronavirus pandemic heightened the possibility of a shortage of election judges and volunteers for the upcoming Maryland general election.

But various local election officials said Friday they will be staffed and ready to go for early voting and on Election Day.

Alisha Alexander, elections administrator in Prince George’s County, said the election office will continue to recruit for judges to ensure extra coverage in case of drop-offs.

“We are doing very well,” she said. “We have enough election judges to successfully operate not only the election day sites, but the early voting sites as well.”

Maryland will conduct a first-time format incorporating more than 300 voting centers on Election Day. Voters can cast their ballots at any location within their jurisdiction. In addition, voters can choose their candidates by either mailing the ballots or taking them drop-off boxes at voting sites.

A map of early voting sites in Prince George's County
A map of early voting sites in Prince George’s County

Early voting will be from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Prince George’s will have 11 early-voting sites, including the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, University of Maryland Xfinity Center Pavilion in College Park and Southern Area Aquatic and Recreation Complex in Brandywine.

However, more Spanish-speaking judges are needed in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

Nikki Charlson, the state’s deputy election administrator, said Republican judges are also needed in those counties, Baltimore City and a few other jurisdictions.

“Hopefully, this will bring a new group of election judges into our process and we can keep them interested in continuing to serve,” she said.

As voters began to receive applications to request absentee ballots, more confusion in the voting process surfaced.

Two state election board members, PJ Hogan and Malcolm Funn, applied online last month to receive mail-in ballots. However, they still received the applications at their home.

Charlson said voting applications had to be processed by Aug. 6 so the paper documents wouldn’t automatically be mailed to them.

This has created a backlog from local election offices, which is why the state plans to establish a data processing center to help process mail-in ballot requests.

“I’m sure this is going to cause confusion among a number of people,” Funn said. “I’m on the board and I’m confused. I sent in the application early enough in July and then I receive a paper application. I’m going to throw this away.”

Charlson said voters can check online to see if the application requests have been received by clicking “absentee or provisional ballot status.” Also, designated numbers are giving to each of Maryland’s four million registered voters and the system will only recognize one ballot when received.

Another confusion in calling the applications absentee and mail-in ballots, but there’s only one major difference.

Voters must request an absentee ballot and the reason for it, while mail-in ballots are automatically sent. Ballots are treated the same after they’re mailed.

As of last week, about 400,00 mail-in ballot requests had been received and processed, Charlson said.

“That raises the concern … regarding the difficulty of the application processing and the backlog that we have built up,” said Michael Cogan, board chairman. “That’s a concern and certainly has been made visible by two board members.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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