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Bone up on local candidates for Congress

It’s been a strangely quiet election season so far.

Part of that is due to a very light ballot for the primary, pushed back from its original April 28 date to June 2. The other part is due to what caused the postponement in the first place: the coronavirus pandemic. With social distancing and gathering limits in place for a couple of months, it has put the kibosh on physical political rallies and other events where people would normally go to hear candidates stump on the issues.

That’s why we figured we’d give you, the voter, some helpful information. Included in today’s A section you’ll find two pages devoted to the Democratic and Republican primary races for the District 5 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the only state or local contest on the primary ballot in which candidates will be eliminated after the votes are tabulated June 2. One Democrat and one Republican will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. Awaiting them will be Rashad D. Lloyd, an unaffiliated candidate who by rule is not on either the Democratic or GOP ballot.

All of the active candidates were sent a questionnaire with four questions about important issues to the congressional district, which covers all of Southern Maryland as well as chunks of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.

Vying for the Democratic nomination against longtime incumbent Rep. Steny Hoyer are William A. Devine III of Bowie, Vanessa Hoffman of Columbia and Mckayla Wilkes of Waldorf. Those four candidates’ answers to the four questions are included. Briana Urbina of Hyattsville suspended her run for the Democratic nod earlier this year.

On the Republican side, you will find responses from Bryan DuVal Cubero of Lexington Park, Lee Havis of College Park, Chris Palombi of St. Leonard and Doug Sayers of La Plata. A fifth candidate, Kenneth Lee of Huntingtown, did not respond to multiple invitations to participate over the past two months, so he is not included in the special pages. Mark S. Leishear, another Republican, withdrew his candidacy in January, according to the state board of elections website.

The state was to have mailed all eligible voters a ballot. No postage is needed to return your ballot — you were to get a postage-paid envelope with your ballot. If you have not received a ballot, or if you’re unsure of your registration status, see voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch or call the St. Mary’s County Board of Elections at 301-475-4200.

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 still 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 41650 Tudor Hall Road in Leonardtown, and at the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department on Route 235. 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.

But 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 Hollywood 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.

So if you haven’t sent in your ballot yet, please take a moment to read the candidates’ responses to our questions. Then do your duty.

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