First, the coronavirus made the wheels of state government grind to a halt, cutting short the General Assembly session and necessitating a special session whose schedule is still unknown. And now, here’s another thing the coronavirus has bollixed up for us this spring: the primary election.
Today was supposed to be the first round in this year’s political playoffs. As it turned out, all but a special congressional election in Baltimore to replace the late Democrat Elijah Cummings got pushed back to Tuesday, June 2, by the pandemic. And because we’re all still practicing social distancing — and do you really want to go near those pens just yet? — for most of us it’ll be like filling out an absentee ballot.
The ballots will be light on both the Republican and Democratic sides here in Talbot County. On the Democratic side will be a litany of candidates for president, all but one of whom have dropped out of the race. There will also be a number of folks vying to be delegates at their parties’ conventions (if those will still even occur in a non-virtual setting) who back long-since-suspended candidates.
Here’s a quick rundown on what will and what won’t happen in the June 2 primary. There won’t be early voting, of course, since there will be no physical polling places. Sample ballots won’t be mailed this time, but can be found on the Maryland Board of Elections website at elections.maryland.gov/elections/2020/index.html.
The state will mail all eligible voters a ballot. No postage is needed to return your ballot — you will get a postage-paid envelope with your ballot. If you’re unsure of your registration status, see voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch or call the Talbot County Board of Elections at 410-770-8099.
Remember that since Maryland is not an open primary state, you will need to be registered with either of the two major political parties.
The local office suggests that you call that number if you don’t receive your ballot in the mail by May 15. If you would prefer to get a ballot to print offline or a ballot mailed to a different address than where you are registered to vote, you can complete an absentee ballot application at voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1. Voters would then be required to print a ballot and mail it back. Black ballpoint pen is suggested to fill out all ballots, and complete instructions will be included.
All ballots must have a postmark of June 2 or earlier. For those who prefer not to mail their ballots (although the governor and the state board of elections strongly suggest doing so), there will be two drop boxes for ballots: at the county board of elections at 215 Bay St., Easton, and at the Easton Volunteer Fire Department at 315 Leonard Rieck (Aurora Park) Drive, Easton. Ballots may be dropped off there as early as Thursday, May 21. The latest a ballot may be dropped off in one of the two boxes is 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.
And to guarantee that a ballot has been received, there is a lookup tool voters can access on the state elections board site.
Talbot County Election Director Jeri Cook encourages voters to be safe and mail in ballots, and to vote at the polling site on June 2 only if it’s absolutely necessary.
With all that said, people who insist on voting in person rather than mailing in or dropping off a ballot can still do so on a limited basis on Election Day, June 2, at the Easton VFD from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Guidelines regarding social distancing will be followed and there will be line management. Same-day registration will also be available. But we recommend the safety of much more than 6 feet away from others. Use the mail to take care of your trackable vote.
However you decide to do it, please make the effort. Casting your ballot is an important part of being a responsible citizen.