Just a few days away, Election Day is finally, almost here.
Having started Monday, Oct. 26, early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2, with polls open daily, including Saturday and Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The early voting polling places in Southern Maryland are: the Community Resources Building on Prince Frederick’s Duke Street for Calvert County; Sacred Heart Church Friendship Hall in La Plata and St. Charles High School in Waldorf for Charles County; and the Hollywood firehouse for St. Mary’s County.
On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, the polls will again be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be five voting centers in Calvert, nine in Charles and seven in St. Mary’s.
Residents may cast their ballots at any of their county’s voting centers on Election Day; that is a change from previous elections when voters went to a polling place in their designated precinct.
Mail-in voting continues as well for those who requested a ballot prior to the Oct. 20 deadline. Those ballots must be postmarked or turned in by Nov. 3.
Another option for delivering ballots are any of the official election drop boxes in each county. To find out where they are located, visit the local election boards’ websites. Ballots must be placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, according to the state website.
For those voting by mail or drop box, remember to sign the oath on the ballot, print your name and date it, as required. Double check the envelope before you seal it to make sure you included your ballot.
The presidential race is between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris.
Also on the ballot in the presidential race are Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and running mate Jeremy Spike Cohen; Green Party candidate Howie Gresham Hawkins with Angela Walker; and for the Bread and Roses Party, Jerome M. Segal and John de Graaf. There are close to 30 additional write-in candidates listed on the Maryland State Board of Elections website, some with running mates, most without.
If it seems like members of the U.S. House of Representatives are on every election ballot, that is because their terms are for two years.
In this year’s House race, 20-term incumbent Democrat Steny Hoyer seeks to retain his seat representing Maryland’s 5th Congressional District against Republican challenger Chris Palombi. The 5th District comprises all of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties along with portions of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel.
Voters in Southern Maryland will also chose “yes” or “no” for continuance in office of Jonathan Biran on the court of appeals as well as E. Gregory Wells on the court of special appeals.
Charles voters will have their say in this election on whether Patrick Devine, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the circuit court, will remain as a judge or if Makeba Gibbs will take his place.
Three school board seats are open this year in St. Mary’s County. At-large incumbent Cathy Allen faces Deforest Rathbone, while District 2 incumbent Jim Davis faces Heather Marin Earhart. Mary Washington, long-time incumbent for the District 4 seat, is running unopposed. Also unopposed in St. Mary’s is Circuit Court Judge Joseph Stanalonis.
There are also three local school board seats up for grabs in Calvert County. Chad Leo is trying to unseat District 1 incumbent Dawn Balinski, while in District 2 Antoine White is up against Dawn Keen, although Keen had announced earlier this year that she was suspending her campaign. Jana Smith Post filed earlier this month, after ballots had been printed, as a write-in candidate against White and Keen. Incumbent Inez Claggett is unopposed on the ballot for the District 3 seat. However, Tiffany Thompson earlier this month officially filed as a write-in candidate against Claggett. Finally in Calvert, voters can pick up to two candidates to fill two judgeships on the circuit court; there are only two candidates on the ballot — Mark Carmean and Andrew Rappaport.
Once voters are done with the office holders, they get to cast their votes on a pair of ballot measures.
Question 1 is for a state constitutional amendment expanding the General Assembly’s authority to amend the budget submitted annually by the governor.
Currently, the legislature can only increase funding for the legislative and judicial branches, but not the executive branch, which includes agencies like the Department of Natural Resources. The General Assembly can cut funding within the executive branch budget, though.
The proposed amendment on the ballot would allow the General Assembly to increase funding to executive branch line items, as long as they do not “exceed the total level of funding proposed by the Governor for the Executive Branch.” The governor would have line item veto over any such changes, but those could be overridden by a three-fifths majority vote.
Question 2 is a referendum to expand commercial gaming in Maryland by allowing sports and event wagering.
“Betting on sports in most states was illegal under federal law until the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the federal law was unconstitutional. As a result, states are free to authorize sports betting. Under current Maryland law, betting on sports is illegal,” the question states.
Registration and canvassing
Those who missed their chance to register to vote prior to the election have another opportunity do be added to the rolls and cast a ballot.
Maryland allows registration during early voting and on Election Day. To register go to one of the polling places in your county and bring with you documentation of your residency, such a driver’s license from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
In previous years, local boards of elections would count absentee and provisional ballots after Election Day. This year, the state authorized canvassing to begin as early as Oct. 1 due to the high volume of mailed-in ballots, and that will continue after Election Day.
For more information about this year’s election, visit the Maryland State Board of Elections website at elections.maryland.gov or one of these local election board websites: www.co.cal.md.us/154/Election-Board for Calvert; www.charlescountymd.gov/government/board-of-elections for Charles; or www.stmarysmd.com/supervisorofelections for St. Mary’s.