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So I finally have my ballot for the Maryland primary. Now what?

Maryland’s primary next week is sure to be different from any other election held by the state.

The primary, which was originally scheduled for April, was rescheduled by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan due to the coronavirus. In-person voting will be held only on a limited basis because Hogan ordered the election to be conducted largely by mail to help stop the virus from spreading.

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With an election out of the ordinary, here’s everything you need to know to be prepared and make sure your vote counts.

If my ballot has to be postmarked by Tuesday, how early do I have to get it into the mail to make that happen?

If the ballot is at the post office before the end of the day Tuesday, it will be properly postmarked.

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What about stamps? Do I have to use them?

You don’t need to put any on the envelope. Postage is already paid.

If I don’t want to put it in the mail, do I have any other options?

Ballots can be placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. on primary day. Each county has specific drop box locations that can be found on the Board of Elections website. Also, a handful of in-person voting centers will be open.

How come Mary Washington is listed as running for mayor? I thought she dropped out?

She did. However, Washington dropped out after the ballots were already printed. The former mayoral candidate urged people in a Facebook post not to vote for her, even though she is still technically on the ballot. Candidates on the ballot in some other races also have dropped out.

What’s with these delegates I’m supposed to vote for? Are there even going to be national political conventions?

Delegates vote at the national political conventions to select a presidential nominee.

The 2020 Democratic National Convention was scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee, but was moved to the week of Aug. 17 because of COVID-19.

I’ve heard about the mayor’s race, but what is the deal with all these judges races?

Hogan selects new circuit judges to fill court vacancies from a pool of candidates deemed qualified to serve based on experience, temperament and other characteristics. After being appointed, the judges then must run in the first general election after their appointment.

Candidates appear without a party affiliation, or as a slate, on the ballot.

Why do I have to sign it?

If you don’t sign the envelope that your ballot goes in, your vote will not count. The written signature and date help ensure that the ballot was completed and filled out by the eligible voter.

Why does it say April 28 and not June 2?

The ballots were already printed when Hogan decided to change the date of the election. Because it was a last-minute change, it was too late to correct the date printed on the June ballots.

Instructions inside ballot packets ask voters to ignore the date. The discrepancy does not affect whether the ballot will be counted.

Do I really have to use black ink?

You should. But if you don’t, it won’t be the end of the world.

The Board of Elections says other colored inks and pencils can make it difficult for the voting machines to read the ballot. If a voter does not use black ink, the ballot will be placed into a pile and copied so that it will become black. The ballot will not get thrown out and will still be counted.

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If I still don’t have my ballot, what should I do?

If you don’t have a ballot, you can contact your state or local election board.

How do I know the Board of Elections got my ballot?

You can check the status of your ballot online at the Board of Elections website. But, because there are so many ballots, the board warned that it may take some time for the status to fully appear.

Who do I vote for?

Can’t help you there, but check out The Baltimore Sun’s voter guide for information on the candidates and their ideas.

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