Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Supports Keeping Majority Mail-In Elections

Similar to other county governments and voting advocates, Prince George’s County supports a majority mail-in process for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election.

According to a letter the county council discussed Tuesday, more voters would have a chance to participate in the election process, including those with disabilities.

More specifically, the county’s Board of Elections office would need to train more than 3,500 election judges for 245 polling places. Those voting precincts include churches, senior centers and private halls that have withdrawn from holding elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county does support some in-person voting with additional voting precincts open that would offer early voting from Oct. 29 through Election Day.

“We firmly believe that if the issues from the primary election are remedied, it would be in the best interest of the voters to continue voting by mail with increased in-person voting,” according to the letter council voted on to send Gov. Larry Hogan. “This methodology would be, to a great extent, like the vote by mail election that you authorized during the primary election.”

The letter comes after a recent decision from the state elections board, which voted along party lines on recommendations for this year’s general election.

Republican board Chair Michael R. Cogan and his colleagues Kelley Howells and William Voelp voted on an option for “extensive in-person voting” and mail-in ballots with a possibility of adding more voting centers.

The Democrats, Vice Chair Patrick J. Hogan and Malcolm Funn chose a strictly mail-in voting process as the safest way during the COVID-19 crisis and provides more opportunities for people to vote.

The state board released a report Thursday which highlighted data from the June primary election such as the percentage of voters who cast their ballots at designated dropoff boxes.

Prince George’s recorded the third-highest percentage in Maryland at 18 percent of voters who chose to drop off ballots at those boxes. Neighboring Charles County had the second-highest percentage at 22 percent and Kent County number one at nearly 44 percent.

Because of the popularity of the dropoff boxes, the state board agreed to provide additional boxes for the November election.

In terms of ballots received, Prince George’s recorded the fourth-highest percentage with about 44 percent, or 229,676 received of the 521,991 ballots sent. It marked the county’s largest voter turnout since the 2008 primary election.

Baltimore City recorded the highest percentage with 46 percent of the 337,678 ballots sent to voters.

Although the state saw nearly 1.5 million voters, or 41 percent, participated in the April 28 special election in the 7th Congressional district and June 2 primary, several challenges occurred such as voters receiving late or no mail-in ballots and printing errors in Baltimore City on Election Day.

About 90,000 Prince George’s voters received Spanish-only instructions, but those voters eventually received English instructions a few days later. Voters also experienced long lines in Prince George’s and Charles counties and Baltimore.

Linda Lamone, administrator for the state’s board of elections, said the coronavirus and problems with a vendor caused some of the challenges and delays. The state may plan to seek another vendor for the November election.

The state’s plans for the November election include mailing ballots at least 30 days before the election, increasing the number of voting centers, providing adequate supply of personal protective equipment for election workers, and requesting Congress provide election officials with additional money through the CARES Act, which funding state and local governments can receive during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Maryland governor would have the final decision on how elections would be conducted.

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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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