Governor Larry Hogan today approved a State Board of Elections (SBE) plan to designate each of Maryland’s high schools as vote centers — places where any county resident can vote, regardless of their precinct — for the November 3 election. Additionally, 80 early voting centers will be open across the state from October 26 through November 3.
Voters may cast their ballot at any vote center in their county of residence. SBE also plans to make at least 127 ballot drop boxes available statewide.
SBE will mail applications for mail-in ballots to all Maryland voters at the end of August, or residents may request a mail-in ballot online by visiting elections.maryland.gov. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 20th.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Hogan previously ordered all 1,848 neighborhood precincts to be open and for all voters to be mailed a mail-in ballot application (instead of a mail-in ballot) for the November 3 general election.
The Maryland Association of Election Officials (MAEO), the professional membership organization consisting of local election officials and Election Boards from all 24 jurisdictions in the State of Maryland, warned that Governor Hogan’s plan would be “costly, inefficient, and unsuccessful” and that the directive would lead to confusion and long lines at polling places.
According to MAEO, local boards of elections are short about a third of the poll workers they would need to open all polling sites on election day. Additionally, nearly 100 polling places have indicated that they will not allow their facilities to serve as voting sites on election day.
Hogan’s proclamation — which still requires SBE to mail voters an mail-in ballot application — means that local boards of elections will not have to consolidate polling places due to the shortage of workers and facilities. Eleven counties petitioned to consolidate poll locations before the governor approved the SBE plan to open vote centers.
MAEO says vote centers will also save time and money, and, because a voter could cast their ballot at any county voting center, the proposal would result in fewer provisional ballots from voters that attempt to vote at the wrong precinct on election day.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.