The Washington County Board of Elections today will hold a special meeting to discuss and vote on the consolidation of multiple precincts for the 2020 general election. Local election officials say the action is necessary because the majority of election judges have indicated they will stay home due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, under Governor Hogan’s plan, all in-person voting locations will be open and voters will be mailed an absentee ballot application (instead of an absentee ballot).
The Maryland Association of Election Officials (MAEO), the professional membership organization comprised of local election officials and Election Boards from all 24 jurisdictions in the State of Maryland, has warned that Governor Hogan’s plan will be “costly, inefficient, and unsuccessful” and says that the directive will lead to confusion and long lines at polling places.
MAEO is concerned about a shortage of personal protective gear, election judges, and the availability of polling places. Many community voting sites, such as schools and senior centers, remain shuttered amid the pandemic.
According to a Washington County Board of Elections press release:
These consolidations provide the least disruption to voters while allowing each polling location to be staffed with the appropriate number of election judges. This action is for the Presidential General Election only, and if a decision is made by the Governor to change the method of the election such that polling places are not required, the consolidation will not take place.
Any recommendations approved by the Washington County Board of Elections will be forwarded to the State Board of Elections for approval at their meeting on Thursday, July 23.
The meeting will take place today at 4:00PM at the board office, located at 35 West Washington Street, Hagerstown. The meeting will be open to the public, but space is limited.
Interested parties should contact the office staff ahead of time to notify them of your intention to attend the meeting. The staff can be reached at 240-313-2050.
A letter from multiple county leaders calls on Governor Larry Hogan to reconsider his plan for the November general election and instead consider the “hybrid” vote-by-mail election with extended in-person voting centers, recommended by MAEO.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.