Election officials preparing for June primary
DELMARVA – The June 2nd primary election is now just about one month away and it’s fair to say that this time around officials are facing some new challenges as they prepare amidst COVID-19.
“I think voters can feel confident that although this is a different process, it is equally safe and secure,” says Nikki Charlson, the Deputy Administrator for Maryland State Board of Elections.
Election officials across Maryland and Delaware are preparing for the June 2nd primary. “The state board does want us to make sure that the safety of our voters and of our poll workers is of the utmost,” says Anthony Guttierez with Wicomico County Board of Elections.
In Maryland, every eligible voter registered as either a Republican or Democrat will be getting a ballot in the mail by the middle of May. “We’re really asking voters, if you can vote and return that ballot, by mail please do so and leave the voter centers to voters who can’t otherwise vote by ballot,” says Charlson.
There will still be a handful of polling sites open on June 2nd but officials are asking that traditional method be limited. “The primary reason for that is for example voters who have special needs and require a little more assistance we have ballot marking devices that they are able to vote more independently,” says Guttierez.
Meanwhile, Delaware residents will not automatically receive their ballot in the mail but they can request an absentee ballot due to health concerns. “I suggest people vote absentee and not take the chance of being out in this COVID atmosphere that we have today,” says Ken McDowell with Sussex County Board of Elections.
While officials aren’t sure how many voters will participate in this primary, they’re preparing everyone including the mail system for 100 percent turnout. “We have a mail house that is printing and mailing our ballots and they meet certain security and safety requirements. We’ve been working very closely with the post office to make sure they are aware of 3.5 million ballots entering the mail stream and they are ready and prepared to deliver them,” says Charlson.
In Maryland, the ballots have prepaid postage for you to return them or you can drop them off at designated locations in your county starting May 21st. If Maryland residents do not recieve their ballot in the mail by mid-May, they should contact their local board of elections.
The Director of Sussex County’s Board of Elections tells 47 ABC he wouldn’t be surprised if the primary was postponed in Delaware again because of the number of COVID cases there but that decision isn’t expected for another week.
Officials also say that polling staff at locations in both Delaware and Maryland will be thoroughly sanitizing machines and they will be practicing social distancing which could mean lines will appear longer.