Maryland is looking to drastically cut down on the number polling places they are allowing this November amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reports the decision will eliminate almost 85 percent of the number of polling places, as a plan proposed by the state’s Board of Elections and Governor Larry Hogan will transition the available 1800 polling places to a mere 282 polling centers.
“Unlike polling places, voting centers are large, open spaces like gymnasiums or convention centers, Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator for Maryland’s Board of Elections, told the Daily Caller News Foundation,” via the report. “Though almost 85% of the state’s usual polling places will be closed, election officials think that voting centers’ ability to hold more in-person voters, voting absentee and voting early will ultimately prevent any voters from being disenfranchised, Charlson said.”
According to the report, the decision came as a result of a reduced number of poll workers and volunteers.
“The inability to staff polling places, it was like an inorganic consolidation was already occurring,” Charlson explained, pointing to 14,000 fewer workers this August compared to before the pandemic.
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The report adds:
The voting centers are most concentrated in areas with the highest populations like Baltimore and Prince George’s County. In the latter, which shares Washington, D.C.’s eastern border, 11 centers will be open for early voting and 40 centers open on Election Day, Charlson said.
The state also sent out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters at the end of August and will allow early voting beginning eight days before the election.
“We are preparing for every registered voter to show up,” Charlson said, “even if that ends up not being the case.”
Though election officials think the plan will be successful on Election Day, they acknowledge that it is not perfect. In-person voters in the state’s primary three months ago faced hours-long lines, a risk that intensifies with fewer places to vote and far more people voting.