Under election officials’ current plan, Carroll County voters will have less than half the typical number of polling places when they go to cast their ballots in November.
The five-member Carroll County Board of Elections unanimously voted Wednesday to consolidate polling places from 36 to 17 for the Nov. 3 election, according to Paula Troxell, deputy election director.
“We’re doing the best to carry out the orders we’ve been given,” she said.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic and a related statewide election judge shortage, Gov. Larry Hogan called for early voting centers and for every polling place to open. The Baltimore Sun reported July 23 that the state is short nearly 14,000 election judges due to the pandemic.
Troxell said the election judge shortage and social distancing were factors in the board’s decision to consolidate polling places. She said the number of people allowed inside polling places will be limited to allow for social distancing.
Many election judges are retirees who, based on age, are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Troxell noted the plan for polling places is subject to change, but this is the board’s current plan moving forward.
Carroll County voters will be notified in late August or early September about the polling place changes via a mailer to their registered address, according to the Board of Elections website.
The Carroll County polling places, as posted on the board’s website, are as follows:
- 01001 Northwest Middle and 01002 Taneytown Elementary — vote at Northwest Middle School (6,980 total voters)
- 02001 Francis Scott Key High, 02002 Runnymede and 03001 Pleasant Valley fire hall — vote at Pleasant Valley fire hall (7,491 total voters)
- 04003 Mechanicsville gym and 04002 Mechanicsville cafeteria — vote at Mechanicsville gym (7,877 total voters)
- 05001 Sykesville Middle and 05006 Fairhaven — vote at Sykesville Middle (3,917 total voters)
- 05002 Liberty High, 05003 Oklahoma Road Middle and 05005 Piney Ridge Elementary — vote at South Carroll Senior and Community Center (10,875 total voters)
- 06001 Manchester Valley High and 06002 North Carroll Middle — vote at Manchester Activities Building (11,199 total voters)
- 08001 Hampstead Elementary, 08002 Shiloh Middle and 08003 Spring Garden Elementary — vote at North Carroll Senior and Community Center (11,301 total voters)
- 07007 Westminster Elementary and 07005 Carroll Lutheran — vote at Westminster Elementary (6,752 total voters)
- 07003 Friendship Valley Elementary, 07006 Carroll Career and Technology Center and 07008 Robert Moton Elementary — vote at Robert Moton Center, at 300 S. Center St. in Westminster (6,315 total voters)
- 07001 Cranberry Station Elementary, 07002 William Winchester Elementary and 07004 West Middle — vote at Westminster Senior and Community Center (12,281 total voters)
- 14002 South Carroll gym and 14003 Fine Arts Lobby — vote at South Carroll gym (7,029 total voters)
- 9002 Winfield Elementary, 9001 Winfield Fire Department and 14001 Linton Springs Elementary — vote at South Carroll Swim Club (16,092 total voters)
- 10001/12001 Elmer Wolfe Gym 1 and Gym 2 — vote in the gym together (2,004 total voters)
The unchanged polling places are Carrolltowne Elementary (8,098 total voters), New Windsor Community Room (2,902 total voters), Parr’s Ridge (8,081 total voters) and Sandymount (6,505 total voters).
Early voting in Carroll County will be held at the Westminster Senior and Community Center and the South Carroll Swim Club. It is set to begin on Thursday, Oct. 22 and run through Thursday, Oct, 29, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
Carroll County Election Director Katherine Berry, who was not available for comment Wednesday, addressed the election judge shortage in an interview on Friday.
“We have sent a survey out to our election judges. We hire over 600 election judges in a ‘normal’ election. So far, we have heard back from a little over 400 people. Around 130 have quit and we still haven’t heard from over 200 people, so that number could increase,” Berry said via email.
Times Editor Bob Blubaugh contributed to this story.