Pandemic Causes Voting Changes, But Talbot County Is Up to the Challenge
The right to vote is one of the fundamental principles of our democracy, and 2020 is a pivotal election cycle. Yet the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused many changes in the way Talbot County citizens will cast their vote.
“This year we’re running two elections in one,” says Talbot County Election Director Jeri Cook. “We are running a mail-in ballot election and an in-person election. Our goal is to make it appear seamless, but there is a lot of preparation in making it appear seamless.”
In addition to normal set-up procedures, Cook and her team have worked with Dr. Fredia Wadley, Talbot County’s health officer, and others at the state level to establish protocols to keep voters and poll workers safe. Voting stations will be cleaned after every voter. Pens will be used only once, and voters will be required to wear masks.
Still, Cook urges Talbot County residents to vote by mail this year if possible to ensure their own safety and that of the health of the hundreds of volunteers who work on Election Day.
I don’t like politics, but I love elections. It’s in my blood. I absolutely love the process. Election directors are dedicated to democracy. We want to make sure that everyone has the right to cast their vote. We’re defending democracy.
~ Jeri Cook, Talbot County Election Director
Important dates to remember include the following:
- Your request for a mail-in ballot must be received by the Election Office no later than Oct. 20.
- Early voting will take place at the Easton Fire House Bingo Hall from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2. Polls are open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
- Talbot County will have four voting centers on Election Day, Nov. 3. Those include Easton High School Cafeteria, Easton Fire House Bingo Hall, St. Michaels Middle-High School Gymnasium, and Tilghman Fire House.
- You can watch the vote count live on YouTube. Search Talbot County Election Board.
For more information, contact the Election Office at 770-8099 or email Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions About the 2020 Election
Q: I’m not sure I am registered to vote. How do I find out?
A: You can log on to elections.maryland.gov to check your registration.
Q: Can I still get a mail-in ballot?
A: October 20 is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot. The request must be in the Election Office by that date. Main-in ballots are the safest way to vote to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
Q: How do I know if ballot has been mailed to me or received by you?
A: You can track your ballot at the State Election Board website: elections.maryland.gov. If you see “sent” for your ballot, this indicates the ballot has been sent to the third-party mail house vendor which will mail out the ballot. Ballots should be in mailboxes by the end of next week, depending on when the request was made. Once canvassing begins, you will be able to see if your ballot was accepted. Be patient! It will take a few days for the staff to update that information following each canvass.
Q: I would rather not put my ballot in the mail. Where can I drop it off?
A: Drop boxes for completed ballots are located at 215 Bay Street and Easton Firehouse on Aurora Park Drive. The ballots are picked up daily and there is 24 hour surveillance on the drop boxes.
Q: What can cause a ballot to be rejected?
A: Ballots are rejected if the oath is not signed or if the ballot is not received or postmarked on or before November 3. Voters must sign and put the day’s date on the back of their envelope to insure the ballot will be accepted.
Q: Can I vote early?
A: Early voting will take place Monday, October 26, through Monday, November 2, from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. each day, including the weekend, at the Easton Firehouse Bingo Hall on Aurora Park Drive. Expect lines caused by the protocol taken to protect the voters and the election judges. The hours between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. are historically the best times to vote to avoid lines.
Q: I asked for a mail-in ballot, but I have decided to vote in person. Can I do that?
A: If a voter has requested a mail-in ballot, they can only vote a provisional ballot if they attempt to vote in person. This requires a longer process at the vote center, and the provisional canvass is held on November 12.
Q: I requested that my ballot be delivered via email, but I haven’t gotten it.
A: If a voter has asked for the ballot to be delivered by web delivery, the voter should also check their spam folder to ensure it did not go into that folder.
Q: Where do I vote this year?
A: Four vote centers will be available for in-person voting on Election Day. Those include Easton Firehouse, Easton High School, St. Michaels High School, and Tilghman Firehouse. A voter can go to any of these locations to vote their ballot.
Q: What is the best time to vote?
A: Expect lines caused by the protocol taken to protect voters and election judges from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The hours between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. are historically the best times to vote to avoid those lines.