Maryland has postponed its April 28 primary to June 2, the latest in a series of drastic actions the state is taking in an attempt to protect people from the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Larry Hogan issued a proclamation Tuesday to change the date of the election, during which voters will nominate candidates for the Baltimore mayor’s race, U.S. House contests and the presidential primary.
Here is what you need to know:
Will there still be early voting?
Yes, but it will also be moved back. If you want to cast your ballot early, you can do so between May 21 and May 28.
Can I vote on primary day at my regular polling place?
State election officials are working with local boards to make sure regular voting locations that were available for April 28 can host polling on June 2.
Also, some polling places are in senior centers, and older people are more susceptible to developing a severe case of COVID-19. That could mean such polling places should be moved.
If a polling place changes, election officials will notify voters.
What if I feel safer voting by mail?
In Maryland, anyone who wants to can vote by mail without giving a reason.
Voters who prefer to vote from home can request an absentee ballot by going to the state Elections Board website and clicking the “Request a Ballot" box.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the primary is May 26, if the voter wants to receive the ballot by mail, or May 29 if the voter wants to receive the ballot electronically. Ballots must be postmarked on or by June 2.
How will the health of voters and poll workers be protected?
The state elections board will work with the Maryland health department on a plan to keep people safe when they go to the polls.
The plan will be submitted to the governor by April 3.
I’m in the 7th Congressional District. How does this affect me?
This district — which represents parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County — has not had representation in Congress since U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings died in October.
Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman, won the Feb. 4 Democratic special primary for Cummings’ seat, while Kimberly Klacik won the GOP contest.
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The date for the special general election between those two nominees remains unchanged: April 28. But all ballots will now be cast by mail.
Ballots will be sent out later this month to all eligible voters. They must be postmarked and sent back on or before April 28.
There’s another wrinkle: Once the ballots for the special general election are counted, the winner will be sworn in to fill the seat through January, when Cummings’ term ends. The new House member, however, must face challengers in the June 2 primary for the nomination to run in November for a term of his or her own.
Was this all necessary?
Maryland is under a state of emergency because of the coronavirus, and officials are restricting gatherings of more than 50 people to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 illness. As of Tuesday, there were dozens of confirmed cases in the state.
Health experts have also said older people are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease. A large percentage of election judges are older than 60, and could be at at a particular risk.
“I have two main priorities — keeping Marylanders safe and protecting their constitutional right to vote,” Hogan said at a news conference in Annapolis.