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Harford board of elections approves 18 voting centers for Election Day; decision goes to state board

Harford County’s Board of Elections approved 18 voting centers to be opened on Election Day, including four early voting sites, at its Wednesday board meeting — a proposal that could go to the state board for approval as early as Friday.

The local board’s proposal would set up election day voting centers at nine of Harford County’s high schools — all except Joppatowne High — along with Old Post Road, Riverside, Joppatowne, Dublin and Forest Lakes elementary schools. During election day, early voting centers at McFaul Activity Center, the Edgewood Rec Center, Aberdeen Activity Center and Jarrettsville Fire Hall would also be open for a total of 18 centers.

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Those voting centers are subject to the State Board of Elections’ approval. The board’s next meeting is Friday, and depending on how fast Harford’s proposal gets there, the state board could approve or disapprove the locations then, the county’s acting elections director, Kimberley Slusar said.

Joppatowne High School is undergoing a $29 million limited renovation and could not be used as a voting center because school officials told Harford’s board of elections that construction on the building was unlikely to finish in time for voting, so the board split the center’s capacity between Joppatowne and Riverside elementary schools.

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The county needs 986 total judges positions filled over the course of the whole election — from the start of early voting Oct. 26 to the end of Election Day Nov. 3 — to run it. On election day, approximately 332 total judges will be needed to staff the 18 voting centers, and 664 positions will need to be filled to staff the county’s four early voting centers over the course of eight days leading up to Election Day, Slusar wrote in an email.

Currently, the county has 210 trained judges, but five training classes are scheduled, which would train approximately 350 more, Slusar wrote. She said the county is not overly concerned with the availability of election judges; county residents always turn out and help when needed, and this year is no exception.

“We have a lot of people in Harford County,” Slusar said. “When we need help, they come out.”

Early voting does not require a full 664 individuals to staff the vote centers; the number refers to the positions required to be filled over the eight days. Those numbers could go down because some volunteers may wish to work at the early vote centers for multiple days, Slusar said.

“We may have some judges that will want to do more than one day so that number may go down,” she wrote.

The local board’s plan is in line with state board of elections proposal for the state’s nearly 300 high schools be used as voting centers — places where county residents could vote regardless of their precincts or regular polling places, which Gov. Larry Hogan later approved.

Slusar said the number of judges necessary for the election has been changing regularly. On Aug 19, the county reported a different number of required judges to staff polling places on Nov. 3 to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

“These numbers change on a daily basis due to Election Judges opting out for this election, people stepping up and applying to be Election Judges, Vote Centers changing due to COVID-19 restrictions and construction, as well as the amount of Judges and equipment we can put into a particular polling center due to social distancing requirements,” Slusar wrote in an email.

Of Harford’s 866 judges who staffed the primary — many of whom are 60 or older and at higher risk for a serious COVID-19 infection — less than 250 said they would return the presidential election. Originally, about 330 said they would return, but many of those who initially agreed later decided to opt out, Slusar said earlier this week.

Though judge training is under way, not all see it through. Judges receive general training at the larger seminars hosted at places like McFaul Activity Center in Bel Air, and more specific training when they are assigned a voting location. Sometimes, judges drop out during the training process, Slusar said.

While at voting sites, judges will be required to wear masks and monitor their temperatures. If they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they are charged with removing themselves from the property, Maggie Mundle, Harford’s program manager of the judge department, wrote in a memorandum.

Drop boxes will also be available at early voting sites in the county, as well as outside the board of elections’ Forest Hill building.

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As of last week, 5,756 registered voters in Harford County had requested a mail-in ballot. An additional 1,441 voters requested an electronically delivered ballot, where voters can receive a ballot electronically that they may fill out and mail, fax or, in some cases, email to their local board of elections. As of Aug. 1, Harford County had 184,685 registered voters, according to county board of elections’ data.

Maryland is expected to see historic turnout in this year’s presidential election, according to the Maryland Association of Election Officials, which anticipates half of registered voters are expected to cast their ballots via mail.

Mail-in ballots must be returned in the mail or left in a drop box. Those who request a mail-in ballot but decide to vote in-person on Election Day will have to fill out a provisional ballot, which will be vetted and counted later.

In-person Election Day voting centers

The Harford County Board of Elections approved the following 18 locations to be used for in-person voting centers on Nov. 3. Anyone who is registered to vote in Harford County can cast a ballot at one of these locations on Election Day, regardless of where they live. The locations are subject to approval by the state board of elections.

  • Aberdeen Activity Center, 7 Franklin St., Aberdeen
  • Aberdeen High School, 251 Paradise Road, Aberdeen
  • Bel Air High School, 100 Heighe St., Bel Air
  • C. Milton Wright High School, 1301 N. Fountain Green Road, Bel Air
  • Dublin Elementary School, 1527 Whiteford Road, Street
  • Edgewood High School, 2415 Willoughby Beach Road, Edgewood
  • Edgewood Recreation Center, 1980 Brookside Drive, Edgewood
  • Fallston High School, 2301 Carrs Mill Road, Fallston
  • Forest Lakes Elementary School, 100 Osborne Parkway, Forest Hill
  • Harford Tech High School, 200 Thomas Run Road, Bel Air
  • Havre de Grace High School, Lewis Lane, Havre de Grace
  • Jarrettsville Fire Hall, 3825 Federal Hill Road, Jarrettsville
  • Joppatowne Elementary School, 407 Trimble Road, Joppa
  • McFaul Activity Center, 525 W. Macphail Road, Bel Air
  • North Harford High School, 211 Pylesville Road, Pylesville
  • Old Post Road Elementary School, 2706 Philadelphia Road, Abingdon
  • Patterson Mill High School, 85 Patterson Mill Road, Bel Air
  • Riverside Elementary School, 211 Stillmeadow Drive, Joppa

Early voting centers

Four early voting centers will be open in Harford County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 26 through Nov. 2. Pending state approval, the early voting centers will be the McFaul Activity Center, Edgewood Rec Center, Aberdeen Activity Center and Jarrettsville Fire Hall.

Mail-in/drop box voting

Voters who requested a mail-in ballot must have their request received (not just mailed) by Tuesday, Oct. 20. You can request a mail-in ballot online now via the State Board of Elections website or wait to receive an application in the mail.

Once you’ve received and filled out your mail-in ballot, you can return it in the mail or place it in a ballot drop box. Drop boxes will be set up at the four early voting sites as well as the Harford County Board of Elections offices at 133 Industry Lane in Forest Hill. Additional drop boxes may be placed at other locations, depending on availability.

Register to vote

You can register to vote online through the Board of Elections. When you register, you can also request a vote-by-mail ballot if you don’t want to cast an in-person ballot. You can also print out an application and mail it to your designated local elections board. It can also be dropped off in-person. If you can’t print it out, other local boards and state offices have applications.

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The deadline to register online for Election Day is Oct. 13. After that deadline, you’ll have to go in person to an early-voting center or do it Election Day.

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