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The Maryland State Board of Elections has taken a number of steps to ensure eligible Maryland voters can safely cast their general election ballots in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To reduce exposure to the novel coronavirus, Maryland voters are encouraged to vote by mail in the 2020 general election. Eligible voters across the state have been mailed applications for mail-in ballots along with postage-paid return envelopes to submit their applications. Voters’ requests for mail-in ballots must be received by October 20. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters via first-class U.S. Mail beginning in late September and continuing through October.

In order to be counted, mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than November 3 and the oath on the postage-paid return envelope that arrives with the ballot must be signed.

“Voting by mail is safe, easy and free,” said Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone. “We encourage all eligible voters in the state to request their ballots early and cast their votes early.”

In addition to voting by mail, voters will have the option of submitting the mail-in ballots at ballot drop boxes located throughout the state. Each Maryland jurisdiction will have at least two ballot drop box locations available to voters. The state’s most populous counties and the City of Baltimore will have additional ballot drop boxes to accommodate the greater number of eligible voters residing in those jurisdictions. Voters can submit their completed mail-in ballots at any drop box located in their jurisdiction of residence.

In all, 282 ballot drop boxes will be available at 281 locations around the state. Two ballot drop boxes will be available at Camden Yards in Baltimore. The complete list of ballot drop box locations is available at: https://elections.maryland.gov/elections/2020/PG20_Drop%20Box%20Locations.xlsx.

Just as with ballots submitted by mail, in order for ballots submitted at drop boxes to count they must be sealed in the return envelopes that accompany the ballots and the voter oath on the envelope must be signed. Ballot drop boxes will begin opening around the state roughly 30 days prior to Election Day, November 3. Once open, the ballot drop boxes will remain open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Voters may also drop their completed, signed and sealed ballots at local election board offices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, office hours may be adjusted. Voters should call their local board of elections to confirm office hours and locations.

In-person voting will be available during eight days of early voting – from Monday, October 26 to Monday, November 2 – and on Election Day, November 3. To make in-person voting safe, voters must remain six feet apart and wear a mask. To maintain proper distancing, the number of voters permitted inside a voting center at one time may be limited, which could result in lines and wait times.

Early voting centers and Election Day vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eligible voters may cast their ballots at any authorized voting location within their jurisdiction of residence.

A complete list of early voting locations can be found here: https://elections.maryland.gov/elections/2020/2020%20Early%20Voting%20Centers.pdf

A complete list of Election Day vote centers can be found here: https://elections.maryland.gov/elections/2020/PG20_List%20of%20Election%20Day%20Vote%20Centers.xlsx

“This public health crisis has resulted in a number of changes to the way Marylanders will cast their ballots this fall, but we are confident every eligible voter will have the opportunity to safely exercise their right to vote,” said Lamone. “Our message to all Marylanders is don’t wait – don’t wait to apply for your mail-in ballot and don’t wait to cast your vote.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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