CENTREVILLE — Voting in the 2020 Presidential General Election will be different. Citizens may cast their ballots however they choose, but with many offices still closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in place to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, officials have urged people to consider voting by mail.
Unlike the during the primary, voters have to take action in order to receive a paper ballot. Ballot applications have already been mailed to registered voters, who must officially file a request to get an absentee ballot. They can fill out the paper form or make the request online.
The deadline to request a mail-in or electronic ballot is Oct. 20. Requests must be received by Oct. 20, so if you are mailing in your request be sure to do so by Oct. 15 to give it time to be delivered.
According to the State Board of Elections, the best way to receive your ballot is to ask for it to be mailed it to you. It can be sent any address you want and comes with an envelope with prepaid postage.
A voter must simply place their completed ballot in the return envelope, sign the oath on the envelope, seal the return envelope and take it to a drop off box or mail it. The oath must be signed on the return envelope or the ballot will not count.
Voters may receive ballots by email, but they must print them, fill them out and then mail or drop them off. The home printed ballots must be counted separately.
The State Board of Elections said that process slows down the vote counting and puts election workers at risk, so voters are asked not to use email delivery unless absolutely necessary.
Completed paper ballots either must be dropped off by hand or mailed. They cannot be submitted online or by email or fax. Make sure the envelope is postmarked on or before Election Day, Nov. 3. The U.S. Postal Service recommends voters mail their ballots by Oct. 27. Mailed ballots must be received by the local board of elections by 10 a.m. Nov. 13.
The locations of secure ballot drop off boxes remain the same as in the primary: the County Office Building, 110 Vincit St., Centreville, or the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, 1610 Main St., Chester.
Drop off boxes arrived last week, and ballots may be dropped off anytime up to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Ballot drop off boxes are monitored by election officials.
Voters who have not requested a mail-in ballot can expect to receive a sample ballot mailer in mid-October. This mailer includes information about in-person voting and a sample of the ballot they will receive at the vote center. It will be clearly marked “Sample Ballot” and is intended only for informational purposes.
Early voting is back and will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 at Kennard Elementary School, 430 Little Kidwell Ave., Centreville, and the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, 1610 Main St., Chester.
“While we encourage Marylanders to cast mail-in ballots, providing nine days of in-person voting gives Marylanders the opportunity to vote in person if they wish to do so,” said Linda Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, in a news release.”
All voters in Queen Anne’s County will be asked to vote on the same races — president and vice president; representative in Congress, District 1; judge of circuit court, Circuit 2; judge, Court of Appeals, Circuit 1; judge, Court of Special Appeals, At Large; judge, Court of Special Appeals, Circuit 1; county board of education, District 2; county board of education, District 3; and county board of education, District 4 — and on two questions, one to expand budget powers of the General Assembly and the other to approve the expansion of commercial gaming.
On Aug. 10, Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation to establish the use of vote centers for the 2020 General Election. This means all polling places will not be open on Nov. 3. The State Board of Elections set parameters for the number of vote centers to be equal to the number of high schools in the county plus the number of early voting centers.
Citizens who decide to vote in person on Election Day will have to do so at one of four vote centers, which are open to all Queen Anne’s County voters, regardless of which part of the county they live in.
The vote centers are Kennard Elementary School, 420 Little Kidwell Ave., Centreville; Kent Island Fire Department, 1610 Main St., Chester; Grasonville Elementary School, 5435 Main St., Grasonville; and Church Hill Elementary School, 631 Main St., Church Hill.
Note that the Vincit building in Centreville is not a vote center. The fire department with its large community hall and the schools with their cafetoriums and gymnasiums were chosen because they have more room for social distancing, said Cathy Quesenberry, administrative specialist at the Queen Anne’s County Board of Elections.
The county has 11 ballot styles to indicate precinct, which will be available at all four vote centers, Quesenberry said. Voters will be issued the ballot they would have cast at their home precinct based on their address; this will allow for better statistical breakdown after the election about such things as how many votes were cast from what areas of the county.
The last day to register to vote prior to the election is Oct. 13.