Maryland Election Board Recommends No In-Person Voting

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Board of Elections is planning to do away with polling stations for the state’s already delayed primary. Voters would instead be required to mail in or drop off their ballots in an effort to limit coronavirus infections.

If approved, the move would eliminate any need for Maryland’s more than 4 million registered voters to cast their ballots in person on June 2, according to a draft presented by elections officials at their Wednesday meeting, held by teleconference.

The board, citing advice from health officials, said it could not guarantee poll workers the gear necessary to protect them against exposure to this coronavirus, The Baltimore Sun reported.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The state’s primary was originally scheduled for April 28. Gov. Larry Hogan postponed it by executive order on March 17.

Ballots, with clear instructions explaining how to return them, would likely need to be mailed to all registered voters by the end of April, Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator for the Board of Elections, said during the meeting. Those ballots would include prepaid postage to be sent through the mail, or they could be dropped off in boxes at locations that weren’t yet specified, The Sun said.

Board members said the state also would likely need to make a number of major changes to get the system in place by then, including hiring a vendor to handle the increased volume of ballots and expanding the state’s online voter registration portal.

The board was expected to vote on a formal plan by April 2 for submission to the governor the next day, according to the newspaper.

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