Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Joe Torre, the Anne Arundel County election director, pleaded today for residents to apply online now to receive a mail-in ballot to vote this fall as soon as possible. The county is expecting over 300,000 residents to vote for the November election, and there are likely to be serious problems if his office is inundated with mail-in ballots too late during the official time frame too vote.
He indicated so far the request in the county for mail-in ballots has been lackluster. October 20 is the deadline to apply online to receive a ballot, but an influx of ballots at a late date will very likely cause real challenges to getting them counted, Torre said.
According to the state of Maryland website early voting at physical locations will also be open Monday, October 26, 2020 through Monday, November 2, 2020. Early voting centers will be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
During a press conference August 19 outside the board of elections in Glen Burnie county officials explained there will be many less physical voting locations available to voters on election day in the county for this presidential election than previously
In 2016 there were well over 150 neighborhood locations. This year there will be less than 30 larger, centralized locations. The new larger polling locations, primarily in high school gyms and cafeterias, are expected to handle at least 250 people with social distancing, Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman said. Former neighborhood locations, like libraries, could only handle around 40, he indicated.
Torre said the smaller number of locations is due to necessity, as there has been a shortage of election judges who have committed to monitor the voting sites. They indicated to the office that their hesitancy was due to their concerns of contracting COVID-19 from long hours stationed at polling places.
Torre said he may open new locations if an increase in election judges allows for it. He explained that there are election judge applications which have been received and will be reviewed, but those numbers fluctuate daily as some applicants drop out and new residents apply. One of the criteria for choosing polling places this year was that it be accessible to public transportation.
Voters will also have the option of dropping off ballots in secured drop-off ballot boxes located around the county. The large steel containers are sealed and located and each one is expected to have a security camera.
Voters were warned not to vote twice, accidentally or intentionally, because state laws requires that in the case of multiple ballots are received from a citizen, all those ballots are to be destroyed.
Along with Torre and Pittman Anne Arundel County Council Chair Allison Pickard and the county’s public health officer, Nilesh Kalyanaraman also spoke at the press conference.
Kalyanaraman noted that coronavirus numbers have been continuing to improve in the county.
“Things are getting better,” he said. “They’re moving in the right direction. We’re looking at the entire range. Cases are coming down. Percent of positivity is coming down. Hospitalizations are slowly trending down. Those are all good signs.”
Pittman said the online application process to receive a ballot in the mail took him 9 minutes to complete, and included the requirement to upload a copy of the voter’s drivers license. It actually consists of providing the information to register to vote. He hoped the state of Maryland would work to make the application process easier, he said. He encouraged the young people of the county to apply to be election judges.
Police or security are not allowed at election site locations in the pursuit of a fair free election, Torre said. But his staff due prepare with emergency response teams from the county in case there are any emergency, or security incidents that need to be dealt with.
Torre said he expected long lines on election day, but when asked, emphatically stated he did not anticipate any systematic failures of the voting process.