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Campaign 2020

Politicsby Ian Round10:36 amOct 12, 20200

A voter’s guide to this high-anxiety election

Key dates plus maps of drop-boxes and in-person voting centers. The registration deadline for voting online is October 13 – tomorrow!

Above: Feeling like the voting process this year is a bit murky? Here’s a guide that may help.

The November 2020 presidential general election may be one of the most important in United States history with, some say, the future of democracy at stake.

Without a doubt, it is the most nerve-racking in modern times.

Between the menace of the Covid pandemic and Donald Trump’s relentless attempts to spread doubt about the security of voting by mail, Baltimore voters are anxious, even though the outcome of local elections have been largely predetermined by an overwhelming Democratic Party voting bloc.

A less-than-ideal user interface of the Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) website hasn’t reduced that anxiety.

Many Maryland voters are uncertain about the status of their mail-in ballot requests and whether their votes will be counted.

So here’s some advice: Make a plan to vote. Pick a day and set aside time to research candidates, charter amendments and ballot measures.

Here is some information about procedures, key deadlines, links and other resources that may help:

Registering to Vote

The deadline to REGISTER ONLINE to vote is tomorrow, October 13. Register or check your registration here.

You can also register to vote at an early voting center or on November 3 at an election day voting center.

To prove where you live, bring your MVA-issued driver’s license, ID card, or change of address card, or your paycheck, bank statement, utility bill, or other government document with your name and new address.

Mail-in Voting

Apply for a mail-in ballot by October 20.

Unlike in the June primary, which saw record turnout in Baltimore and no allegations of fraud, ballots aren’t being mailed to every voter. You have to apply here.

Applications for mail-in ballots were mailed in August, even to voters who had already requested mail-in ballots online.

(If you applied online, you don’t need to fill out the application you received by mail, although it wouldn’t hurt to hang onto it.)

Fill out the ballot carefully using black pen, place it in the envelope and don’t forget to sign the oath on the outside of the envelope.

You can mail your ballot through USPS or you can drop it in a ballot drop box.

Drop Boxes

Map of where they will be.

Drop boxes are already available across the city and surrounding counties and can be used 24 hours a day. They will close at 8 p.m. on November 3.

Democrat Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County, the majority leader in the House of Delegates, made maps showing the drop-box locations in each jurisdiction, including this one for Baltimore City (below).

The green markers represent drop boxes already in place; blue markers represent ones scheduled to be available in mid-October.

Check the status of your mail-in ballot here.

In-person Voting

Early in-person voting begins October 26.

Voting centers will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Health experts and the State Board of Elections say the best way to avoid exposure to Covid-19 is to vote by mail, but you do have in-person voting options.

If you choose to vote in person, they recommend voting early and during off-peak hours for faster lines and less potential for exposure. Try to avoid voting immediately before or after work or during lunchtime. Of course, wear a mask.

Gov. Larry Hogan wanted to open all normal polling places, but many people chose not to volunteer as poll workers because of the virus. Because of the worker shortage, your local elementary school probably won’t be open for voting.

Instead, state election officials approved a smaller number of voting centers, choosing venues with ample space for distancing.

Each early voting center will be open on Election Day – November 3 – and more will be open on Election Day only.

You aren’t required to go to a specific voting center based on where you live. You can go to any voting center in the city (or county) you live in.

Here’s a map of early (blue dots) and Election Day (yellow dots) voting centers:

Contact Election Officials

You requested a ballot, but haven’t received it or have other questions?

Call the Baltimore City Board of Elections (410-396-1444) or the State Board of Elections (800-222-VOTE) or try the phone numbers here.

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