Anne Arundel County leaders urge residents voting by mail to act now

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, leaders are urging residents to prepare now for how they’ll vote in the general election, and they are concerned voters who want to vote by mail in the state could wait too long to begin the process.

County Executive Steuart Pittman outlined the four options some 400,000 residents of the county have in casting their vote in the November election. There is no question, he said, that health and safety protocols around the coronavirus pandemic are changing how residents will vote.

“Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent, your health and your vote are absolutely important, and it’s our job to protect them,” Pittman said.

The four ways for Anne Arundel County residents to vote are to request a ballot application to vote by mail and send it in, drop the ballot off at a ballot drop box, vote in-person early, or vote in-person on Election Day on Nov. 3.

County leaders’ main concerns are around setting up in-person voting while maintaining safe distance between voters, and ensuring that residents who want to vote by mail understand the process has another step and will take longer than it did in the primary.

“Our election office is not allowed to send ballots out to our voters this time. Instead, they’re told that they should send ballot request forms to our voters so (voters) can mail in the request form to be processed, to then have a ballot mailed, for (voters) to mail that ballot back to be counted,” Pittman said.

It took Pittman himself nine minutes to fill out the ballot request form, which requires a valid Maryland identification card or driver’s license.

“Do not wait for the state to mail you an application. That will be too late. Do it now. Our office may not be able to process those applications and get you a ballot in time,” said elections Director Joe Torre.

The county elections office expects 50% of voters to cast their general election ballot by mail, Torre said. If his office is “inundated” with 100,000 ballot applications in October, Torre said he’s not sure that his office will be able to get everyone a ballot mailed back before Election Day.

That likelihood will force many to vote in person, and Torre said voters should expect long lines.

There will be 28 locations for in-person voting on Election Day, down from 195 neighborhood polling places in the last general election. See a list of locations at the bottom of this article.

Early voting will be held at seven locations, primarily in county high school cafeterias and gyms from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, Pittman said.

Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, Heritage Community Church in Severn, and Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Hall are also serving as voting sites.

Rather than using libraries for early voting this year, the larger high school spaces allow three times the number of voters to safely socially distance inside, Pittman said. Those early voting locations will roll over Nov. 3 to become in-person Election Day voting sites.

Torre expressed frustration with the state election board, which he said has delayed its decision-making around the general election.

Even when it comes to the 29 approved number of ballot drop box locations, Torre said he has not gotten the go-ahead from the state to order more.

Each voting location, and the Board of Elections office, will have a drop box with 24-hour security and video surveillance, and be available to accept ballots beginning Oct. 1.

The county is in need of more election judges and volunteers to work the polling places, Torre said.

Here’s a full list of voting sites (early voting sites are marked in bold italics):

  • Annapolis area
    • Annapolis High School
    • Bates Middle School
    • Broadneck High School
    • Pip Moyer Recreation Center
    • Rolling Knolls Elementary School
  • Arnold
    • Magothy River Middle School
  • Brooklyn Park
    • Brooklyn Park Middle School
  • Crofton
    • Crofton Middle School 
    • Crofton Elementary School
  • Edgewater
    • South River High School
  • Fort Meade
    • Meade High School
  • Odenton/Gambrills
    • Arundel High School
  • Glen Burnie
    • Board of Elections office — Ballot drop box only
    • Corkran Middle School
    • Glen Burnie High School
    • Marley Middle School
    • North County High School
    • Solley Elementary School
  • Hanover
    • Chesapeake Science Point Charter School
  • Harwood/Lothian
    • Southern High School
    • Southern Middle School
  • Laurel
    • Brock Bridge Elementary School
  • Millersville
    • Old Mill High School
    • Millersville Elementary School
  • Pasadena
    • Chesapeake High School
    • Northeast High School
  • Severn
    • Heritage Community Church
  • Severna Park
    • Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Hall
    • Severna Park High School
Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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