Mail-in ballots started being sent out last week and, as of Monday, can be dropped off at the secure boxes managed by the Carroll County Board of Elections. Early voting in Carroll begins Oct. 26. Election Day is Nov. 3.
But that’s just the beginning when it comes to this year’s unprecedented presidential election, occurring during a pandemic. Here’s what voters need to know about the process, according to Carroll County Elections Director Katherine Berry.
Requesting mail-in ballots
To receive a mail-in ballot, voters need to complete an application. That can be done online or by requesting an application at elections.maryland.gov. Once completed, applications can be mailed to 300 South Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or put in a secure box outside of the Board of Elections office (300 S. Center St. Westminster), according to Berry.
Absentee voting and mail-in voting are now “one in the same,” since the Maryland State Legislature changed the law to remove the term “absentee” and replace it with “mail-in, said Berry via email. Voters can write “absentee” or “mail-in” ballot on the outside of their web delivery ballot envelope.
The mail-in ballots themselves began being sent on Sept. 24. Ballots are being sent daily, she said.
The application must be received by the Board of Elections by Oct. 20. After that deadline, Berry suggests contacting the elections board to discuss options for voting.
Voting by mail
Berry advises voters should not make any identifying mark on the ballot such as initials or signatures. “Only sign your envelope and secure signature using the flap on the outside of the envelope,” she said.
Mail-in ballots can be returned by mail or personally dropped off.
The mail-in ballots can be taken to a drop-off location by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, according to Berry, and the drop boxes are managed by the Board of Elections staff. A drop box will be available at Board of Elections Office in Westminster, Liberty High School in Eldersburg, North Carroll Senior Center in Hampstead, South Carroll Swim Club in Taylorsville, Taneytown Police Station, and the Westminster Senior Center.
The drop boxes will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.
For those who mail in ballots, the ballot must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3, and received at the office by Friday, Nov.13.
“The local board of election office will begin counting ballots in early October. The earlier your ballot is returned, the more likely it is that it will be included in the count on election night,” Berry said via email.
Results will not released until after the polls close on Nov. 3.
All ballots are counted “no matter what,” she said, though ballots that are received in drop boxes Oct. 26-Nov. 3 may not be counted until Nov. 5-13. Updates about public viewing of counting ballots are available on their website or by calling the office at 410-386-2080.
Ballot envelopes are reviewed to ensure there is a signature and that it matches the preprinted name of the voter, according to Berry. While Maryland law does not require the Carroll County Board of Elections to verify a signature against the signature on file, the Board routinely does so and if something abnormal is noted, the Ballot is given a special review by the Board of Canvassers (The Board of Elections members overseeing the ballot count.) It takes a unanimous vote of the Board of Canvassers to disqualify a ballot.
Mail-in ballots will not be scanned into the scanning units at in-person locations.
All registered voters who have not requested a mail-in ballot will get a sample ballot in early-October. They can then vote at an early voting center or at any of Carroll County’s 13 vote centers on Election Day, regardless of where the person lives or would have voted any other year.
The early voting centers are at Westminster Senior Center and South Carroll Swim Club. Early voting runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, including Saturday and Sunday.
Voting will take place on Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The locations are: Westminster Senior Center, South Carroll Swim Club, North Carroll Middle School, Francis Scott Key High School, Liberty High School, Manchester Valley High School, New Windsor Community Room, Parr’s Ridge Elementary, Pleasant Valley Fire Department, Sandymount Elementary, South Carroll High School, Taneytown Elementary, and Winters Mill High School. Registered voters have the option of choosing from any of those locations.
Safety and security
Election judges will be provided with face shields, gloves, sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and surgical masks, Berry said, noting that if a voter does not have a mask, they will be offered one. All voters will get hand sanitizer upon entry to the polling place. All voters will be given their own pen to use through the entire voting process.
Voters can not vote by mail and in-person. Those who complete an application for a mail-in ballot, will only be eligible to vote a provisional ballot if they then choose to vote in-person in lieu of voting the ballot you get by mail. Provisional ballots are not counted until the week after the election. Mail-in ballot requests can not be canceled.
“Voters are mailed a ballot to the address they request on the mail-in ballot application, so if voters submit more than one ballot with their signature on the oath, these will be pulled aside for further examination and sent to the State Board of Elections for review to be sent to the Attorney General’s Office for double-voting,” Berry said via email. “If a voter goes to early voting or a vote center and votes a provisional ballot and mails their mail-in ballot, only one ballot will be counted and their name will be sent to the State Board of Elections for review to be sent to the Attorney General’s Office for double-voting.”
Still have questions?
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For general questions, Carroll County voters should call the elections board at 410-386-2080 and leave a message. All calls are returned in the order that they are received, according to Berry, who also suggests emailing the office at email@example.com.