- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Maryland State Board of Elections on Wednesday said that at least 270 ballot drop boxes will be put in place throughout the state for the Nov. 3 general election, a large increase from the 75 that were made available for this year’s primary election.

The ballot drop boxes will be delivered to local boards of elections beginning the week of Sept. 28, who will open the boxes soon after arrival.

The state board also approved to allow local boards of elections to begin canvassing mail-in ballots no sooner than Thursday, Oct. 1. Results of canvassing won’t be available until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Ballot applications will be mailed to registered voters beginning Monday, Aug. 24 through the end of the month. In response to a letter from the U.S. Postal Service about its limited operational capabilities, the state board last week moved the deadline for voters to return their ballot applications up one week to Tuesday, Oct. 20 from Tuesday, Oct. 27. The board is also encouraging voters to return ballot applications early.

The state board is implementing safety measures for in-person voting sites including social distancing guidelines and personal protective equipment to protect election workers and voters.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan approved a proposed plan by the board earlier this month to open 282 voting centers at public high schools or alternative locations, allowing voters to cast their vote in person at any location within their county of residence. There will also be 80 early voting sites throughout the state.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam this week introduced proposals to lawmakers at a virtual meeting of the House and Senate finance and appropriation committees to expand access to voting for the Nov. 3 general election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Northam proposed setting aside $2 million for prepaid return postage on all absentee ballots sent out for the general election, permitting localities to use drop boxes or set up drop-off locations for residents who choose to vote absentee and to allow voters to fix an error on their absentee ballot.

Currently, Virginia residents are not able to fix an error on their ballot without invalidating that selection, requiring a replacement ballot in order to have the vote counted properly.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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