ANNAPOLIS, Md. – With only 12 days left before Election Day, early voting in Maryland starts on Monday and runs for eight consecutive days, including Saturday and Sunday.
Voting-rights groups are taking steps to reduce concerns about possible intimidation, turmoil over the new Voting Center system, and safety precautions when voting during the pandemic.
Joanne Antoine – executive director of Common Cause Maryland – said if you requested a mail-in ballot but decide to vote in person instead, you’ll have to take more time at the Voting Center to fill out a provisional ballot.
“But if you have your ballot in hand, stick to your plan,” said Antoine. “And if your concern is that you’re afraid of using mail or the drop boxes – which are secure – then go turn it in. You can go to the Voting Center, hand it in, which is allowed now.”
For anyone who still wants to cast a ballot but missed the advance voter-registration deadline, same-day registration will also be available at the Voting Centers starting on Monday, and running through Election Day.
Antoine said she thinks folks might forget about the new Voting Centers and go to their previous polling places by accident.
She pointed out that most counties have confirmed they’ll put up signs at old polling places telling people where to go. But Baltimore City has not committed to doing this, yet.
“My fear is that the person who, let’s say they only had a little bit of time to get to the polls, right – they’re trying to go before work – now finds themselves in a situation where they’re at a facility that’s closed,” said Antoine. “They’re not sure where to go and they miss, you know, an opportunity to make their voice heard in the election.”
There have been reports of a few Maryland voters receiving intimidating emails. Antoine said folks should report issues to an election protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
“We have attorneys that are on call, that are communicating with us on a regular basis,” said Antoine. “So hopefully, that ensures that we’re updated on what’s happening on the ground throughout the entire state so that they can hopefully address any issues immediately.”
She said be prepared for long lines at the beginning and end of the early voting session. More information is online at ‘elections.maryland.gov.’