With less than a month until the Nov. 3 election, state election officials say they are ready to “rock and roll” as preparations wrap up.
The last of Maryland’s roughly 19 million ballots for in-person voting will arrive at local boards of elections across the state on Friday, Deputy Election Administrator Nikki Charlson told members of the State Board of Elections during a virtual meeting on Thursday. Mail-in ballots are being delivered to voters on a rolling basis, with more than 1.3 million requested as of Wednesday.
“We’re at the endgame,” State Board Chairman Michael R. Cogan (R) said.
Board members approved a last-minute regulatory change during the meeting, allowing voters with mail-in ballots to turn them in at early voting centers. Voters who get mail-in ballots can now submit ballots at in-person Election Day and early voting centers, return them by mail or drop them off at ballot boxes across the state.
Charlson said voters don’t have to use a ballot box in their home jurisdiction, and can submit their ballot at any of the roughly 280 boxes scattered across the state. She said local boards will make sure every ballot gets to the right place after they’re collected.
The State Board of Elections won’t meet again until after the election — and board members used their final meeting to laud state and local election staff for their work in setting up the election.
Many local boards of elections faced major obstacles in preparing for the election. In addition to dealing with thousands of vacant poll worker positions, local election officials had to scramble to find locations for the state’s more than 300 voting centers with little notice after state officials shifted away from regular polling locations.
“I’m about as confident as you can get that this train is loaded up, and will arrive at its destination on time,” Board Vice Chairman Patrick J. Hogan (D) said.
Cogan said the election is now in the hands of local election workers, and invoked a famous photograph of General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaking with paratroopers just before the invasion of Normandy in World War II before addressing election staff across the state.
“In any struggle, and this is a struggle between people and process, but in any struggle the side that prevails is the side that refuses to yield,” Cogan said, “That, when exhausted, keeps going.”
By Bennett Leckrone