HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — In preparation for the November general election, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced how the state will move forward when people cast their ballot.
The governor wants to avoid the same mistakes made during last month’s primary elections.
Because of the pandemic, June’s primary limited the number of polling places, which led to long wait times for voters and delayed returns. For the fall, Governor Hogan will open all precincts for in-person voting and also send an application to every registered voter for an absentee ballot as a way to limit traffic at the polling place. Washington County‘s deputy elections chief says this year has presented an unprecedented set of challenges.
“It’s not really a normal election,” says Barry Jackson. “Because we’ve got a global pandemic still going on. We have to concern ourselves with sanitizing the polling places, making sure we have personal protective equipment for our election workers. And the voters – we’re making sure they’re social distancing. All of this happening at 49 different locations in the county.”
While the elections staff will be overwhelmed with all the applications for mail in ballots, not to mention the ballots themselves, they hope more voters are thinking along the lines of this registered voter who is perfectly comfortable with the way we went to the polls before the coronavirus.
“It feels safe to just wear a mask,” says Tim White of Hagerstown. “And just going within social distancing and voting – I’m fine with that.”
The state is preparing for the fall by ordering personal protective equipment for 20,000 poll workers at 1,700 voting locations across Maryland. And the state board of elections now begins the process of sending applications to vote by mail to all eligible voters.
Last month’s problems at the polls led to the resignation of the state’s longtime director of the board of elections, Linda H. Lamone.