Indivisible Montgomery’s primary electoral activity is to get out the vote. Whether by phone, text, door knock or letter, our goal is to turn as many people out to the vote as possible.
However, we have not always considered how we will vote. Being in a pretty blue state, some of us have taken the integrity of the election in Maryland for granted. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to consider how and when we will vote to make sure that Maryland remains blue.
But remember, Maryland is a blue state only if we turn out to vote! So how can we cast our ballot? And what are the health risks to those methods? Let’s take a look at each of the voting methods individually.
In-person on Election Day
People will still go to the polls on Nov. 3. The problem, of course, is that there is a health risk to large gatherings in indoor places. Furthermore, fewer people are volunteering to be poll workers. This could mean some polling places will close and more voters will be forced into fewer voting locations. This could make for very long wait times.
So while we recommend one of the other methods below, if you choose to vote on Election Day, be prepared! Bring your personal protective equipment and be ready to stand in line for a long time. Please make sure you bring the materials you need to stick it out because your vote matters!
In-person, Early Voting
If you want to vote in person, early voting is probably the safer way to go. Because early voting is spread out over a week, it is possible there will be fewer people trying to vote at any one time, making voting early safer than voting on Election Day. Fewer people in an enclosed space means less of a risk of catching COVID-19.
But don’t let your guard down! You still need your PPE, and, if early voting is popular, it is also possible you might have to stand in line for a while to vote.
In Maryland, early voting will be held Monday, Oct. 26 through Monday, Nov. 2 from 7am to 8pm each day.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, voting with a mail-in ballot is the safest way to vote this year. The ballot is delivered to you, you mark it, and you send it back to the Board of Elections for counting. And what’s best is that you don’t have to interact with anyone so there is no chance of catching COVID-19!
There is a downside to mail-in ballots, though. Thousands of mail-in ballots were rejected in the 2020 primaries for arriving too late, poor signature matches and other technical issues. In some 2020 races, between 7 and over 20 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected because of these issues. This Washington Post story takes a deep dive into the mechanics of rejecting mail-in ballots.
It is not clear how much ballot rejection will affect the 2020 election, but it will have the biggest effect on close races. As Maryland is a fairly safe blue state, ballot rejection is unlikely to change the results here so as long as you follow the rules and make sure your ballot is delivered on time, there should be little reason to worry.
How to receive your mail-in ballot
The Maryland Board of Elections site has a detailed explanation of how to request your ballot. As we stated in a previous blog post, we STRONGLY urge you to have a ballot mailed to you. Printing out your own ballot, while convenient, may result in your vote being delayed and possibly not counted.
Options for returning your mail-in ballot
- U.S. Postal Service – Despite all of the problems plaguing the USPS today, this is still a valid method of getting your ballot to where it needs to be. But give the mail PLENTY of time to arrive. Try to drop your ballot in a mailbox three to four weeks ahead of time.
- Drop boxes – In Maryland, we have drop boxes specifically for mail-in ballots! These boxes are run by the Board of Elections so there is no concern about these ballots being delivered on time. Drop box locations have not been published yet and this page will be updated once they do.
- Hand deliver – You can drop you mail-in ballot off at the Montgomery County Board of Elections office before 8pm on Nov. 3 or deliver it to any early-voting or polling location before the polls close.