Mail-in ballots act as an alternative to in-person voting during the pandemic.
The 2020 General Election will look a little different this year with more voters choosing to vote by mail, formerly known as absentee voters. The process requires Maryland voters to request an application to receive their mail-in ballot by mail before the November 3rd. election. The mail-in process has been under fire by the White House administration but it's been a long-standing tradition for American voters since the Civil War.
Republicans aggressively lobbied to allow Union soldiers the ability to vote while serving away from home. Without absentee balloting, Republican, Abraham Lincoln may not have been elected over Democratic challenger, George McClellan. Conversely, Democrats, who worried the soldiers’ votes would hurt McClellan’s chances of winning and warned of voter fraud, attempted to block efforts to legalize absentee ballots. In this year of the global pandemic, the arguments remain the same, just the party arguments have flipped.
Official mail-in ballots are beginning to arrive at Garrett County residences. If one was requested, registered voters will receive a white envelope from the Garrett County Board of Elections. Inside the envelop is a two-sided ballot and instructions to successfully fill out the ballot. A signature is required on the reverse side. Anyone assisting a registered voter with their application, must complete and sign the "Certification of Person Assisting Voter" form and return it with the ballot.
Once completed and sealed in the supplied postage-paid envelope, mail-in ballots can be returned through regular mail or dropped off at one of two designated drop box locations at the Northern Outreach Center in Granstville, or at the Oakland Community Center in Oakland. Ballots can be dropped off by 8:00PM daily through Tuesday, November 3rd. Ballots are retrieved twice-daily by election officials and do not pass through the U.S. Postal Service.
For anyone choosing to vote in-person, two Garrett County Vote Centers, also designated for mail-in ballot drop locations, will be open for early voting and on the November 3rd official election day. If someone has requested a mail-in ballot but then chooses to vote in person, they will be given a provisional ballot that must be verified by election officials before it is counted. Provisional ballots are only counted if an election is too close to call.