Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman urges residents to “Protect Your Health and Protect Your Vote”
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman today announced plans to protect public health and voting integrity for the November 3 general election.
Citing a triple threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal cutbacks to the US Postal Service, and a state retreat from mail-in voting, Pittman encouraged voters to make a plan to vote now, using one of four methods the County is providing: Vote by mail, ballot drop boxes, early voting, or voting on Election Day.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Larry Hogan last week approved a State Board of Elections (SBE) plan to designate each of Maryland’s 282 high schools as vote centers — places where any county resident can vote, regardless of their precinct — for the November 3 election.
On early voting days, approximately 80 vote centers will open statewide. On November 3, approximately 350 vote centers will be open statewide. Voters may cast their ballot at any vote center in their county of residence.
Each registered voter who has not already requested a mail-in ballot will be mailed a mail-in ballot application. In the meantime, voters who know they want to vote-by-mail may request a mail-in ballot via SBE.
“We must protect not only the health of our residents, but also the right of our people to vote,” said County Executive Pittman. We are moving voting locations to high capacity sites, maximizing the use of ballot drop boxes, and doing everything humanly possible to help our residents through this unnecessarily complicated election. Protect your health and your vote – request a ballot now.”
County Executive Pittman partnered with Joe Torre, election director for the County Board of Elections, to provide safe and secure options for County voters to cast their ballots. The Board is projecting a high turnout of 85 percent of registered voters, or about 337,500 voters.
In recent days, elections staff worked with the Board of Education to secure 25 voting locations at County schools. Schools are optimal voting centers because they have gymnasiums, cafeterias, and other large areas to accommodate social distancing.
Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, Heritage Community Church in Severn, and Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Hall are also serving as voting sites. Seven of the Election Day sites will also serve as early voting locations, from October 26 – November 2.
In addition, the County is providing 29 secure ballot drop boxes — one at each of the 28 voting locations — and an additional dropbox at the Board of Elections office in Glen Burnie. Dropboxes will have 24-hour security and video surveillance and be available to accept ballots beginning October 1.
County Council Chair Allison Pickard also attended today’s announcement and voiced support for the County’s efforts.
“It is paramount to protect every citizen’s right to vote and their ability to do so safely,” said Council Chair Pickard. “I am pleased that our County Executive, Health Officer, and Board of Elections have worked diligently and collaboratively to craft this plan to facilitate safe and secure in-person voting and vote by mail options.”
According to an Anne Arundel County press release:
“We started planning for a record-setting turnout a year ago,” said County Executive Pittman. “When the pandemic arrived we staged a successful mail-in election for the primary. The Governor is not allowing that for the general election, and now the President is telling us that the Postal Service may not be able to deliver our ballots.”
“To stay safe during this pandemic and to avoid lines during Early Voting and on Election Day, apply for a Vote by Mail ballot on our website at www.aacounty.org/vote,” said Joe Torre. “When you receive your Vote by Mail ballot, please mail it to our office or drop it in a dropbox as soon as possible.”
The County is taking steps to ensure voting is safe, no matter which method voters choose. County health officials have been working with elections staff to put proper safety measures in place and train election judges and volunteers on proper COVID-19 protocols.
“Voting by mail or dropbox are the safest options to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “If you choose to vote in person, wear your mask, maintain six feet of distance and take advantage of early voting to beat the crowds.”
County Executive Pittman also announced a new webpage to serve as a portal for critical voting information. The site, www.aacounty.org/vote, contains the full list of voting sites, links to voter registration, mail-in voting, and other important resources. The site will be updated in the coming days to include a map-based utility to look up voting sites.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.