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Have a question about the upcoming election? Carroll County’s election director has answers.

From a worldwide coronavirus pandemic to a national debate on the postal service to local decisions to go away from traditional polling places to utilize fewer, but larger voting centers, it’s easy to see how citizens could be confused about the upcoming General Election.

Here’s an election primer from Carroll County Election Director Katherine Berry, attempting to answer the key questions on voters’ minds.

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What is the difference between absentee voting and mail-in ballot voting? They are one in the same. The Maryland State Legislature changed the law to remove the term “absentee” and replace it with “mail-in.”

Will I get a mail-in ballot application? Yes. Governor Hogan mandated that all voters will be mailed an application beginning Aug. 24. If a voter submitted an application before Aug. 5, they will not get another application. If a voter submitted an application between Aug. 5-24, they will get another application. It does not have to be submitted again. An application can also be completed online at voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1.

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Will I get a sample of my ballot? Yes. Ballots cannot be printed until early September because of existing laws. This is the normal timeline for producing ballots. Once the ballots are produced, then all registered voters will get a sample ballot in late-September.

Where can I vote in-person? At an early voting center or at any vote center on election day.

Where are the early voting centers? Westminster Senior Center and South Carroll Swim Club.

When is early voting? Monday, Oct. 26 through Monday, Nov. 2, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Saturday and Sunday.

When is election day? Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where are the vote centers on election day (pending State approval on Aug. 28)? 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.

How do I get my mail-in ballot application to the Carroll County Board of Elections? Applications can be mailed to 300 South Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157, emailed to ccboe@carrollcountymd.gov or put in a secure box outside of the Board of Elections office (300 S. Center St., Westminster). It will be available in the beginning of September under the awning as you enter the Robert Moton complex.

What if I do not get a mail-in ballot application or sample ballot? Email the Board of Elections at ccboe@carrollcountymd.gov OR https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch to verify your voter registration information is accurate.

When does my mail-in ballot application need to be received by the Board of Elections? Tuesday, Oct. 20.

When does my mail-in ballot have to be returned to the Board of Elections? If you mail your ballot, the ballot must be postmarked on or before Tuesday, Nov. 3 and received at the office by Friday, Nov. 13. The ballot can be taken to a Board of Elections drop-off location by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. (The drop boxes are managed by the Board of Elections staff.)

Will drop boxes for the mail-in ballot be available? Yes. A drop box will be available at Board of Elections Office, Liberty High School, North Carroll Senior Center, South Carroll Swim Club, Taneytown Police Station, & Westminster Senior Center.

Can I request a mail-in ballot and vote in-person? If you complete an application for a mail-in ballot, you will only be eligible to vote a provisional ballot if you choose to vote in-person in lieu of voting the ballot you get by mail.

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When will my mail-in ballot be counted? The local board of election office will begin counting ballots around Oct. 5. Results are not released until after the polls close on election night. All ballots are counted no matter what.

Is there security in place to ensure that a voter does not vote more than one time? Voters are mailed a ballot to the address that 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. 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.

How can I find out if the Board of Elections has received my voted mail-in ballot? You can check the status of your ballot at: voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch, call (410)386-2080 or email ccboe@carrollcountymd.gov.

How do I contact the Carroll County Board of Elections? Due to the volume of phone calls, beginning Aug. 28, the 410-386-2080 phone line will be included in the State Board of Elections call center. If the call center is unable to answer questions, they will forward these phone calls to the Carroll County office. You may also contact the office at ccboe@carrollcountymd.gov.

When will I hear if I’ve been selected as an election judge? Election judge assignments will be finalized by mid-September. Most positions were filled by returning election judges. New judges will be required to come to an in-person training which will be scheduled in September. To learn more about being an election judge and begin reading the election judge manual, please visit elections.carrollcountymd.gov/JudgeManual.aspx.

Why aren’t all polling places open on Election Day? Historically, 10% of people who express interest in being an election judge drop out before being assigned and trained. Another 10%-20% who have been trained and assigned quit the week before Election Day. Even with the recent recruitment efforts, we are running a risk of not having enough election judges when we know we will have to fill the spots where people quit before election day. The Board of Elections, which is staffed by seven employees, is responsible for running 30 days of counting ballots prior to election day, 30 days of drop box management, eight days of early voting, manually processing all by-mail applications and manually processing all by-mail ballots. As a result of all of these factors, the election judge training must be completed in September following all social distancing guidelines to ensure the health and safety of the employees, so we are limited in the amount of locations that can be used.

How will the vote centers and early voting centers be enforcing CDC guidelines? Election judges will be provided with face shields, gloves, sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and surgical masks. 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.

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