A few weeks ago, my friend Melissa’s dear sister, Diane, passed away.
When Diane learned several months ago that her cancer was terminal, she told her doctor that her number one goal was to vote in the 2020 election.
Diane, who lived here on the Eastern Shore, did not get her wish. She did not get to cast her 2020 vote; and contrary to what you may have heard and as a Worcester County Election Board Official explained to me in great detail this week, elaborate precautions are taken to insure that no deceased person’s vote is mistakenly counted.
My friend’s sister’s wish is an excellent reminder to me of how precious our right to vote is in the United States.
Within hours of learning of her passing, I honored Diane’s memory. I made and began to execute a plan for how I would vote this year, a year that is especially unpredictable for each of us because of covid-19. I considered the two options available to us to vote in 2020. We can vote in person or by mail-in ballot.
Option 1. Vote in person. Traditionally, most of us Worcester County voters, like in the rest of the United States, do it in person.
Because of scrupulous efforts to keep everyone safe from covid-19, voting in person in Worcester County will be a bit different in 2020 than it has been in previous years so might require a little extra planning on your part. Mostly though, it should feel like what you are accustomed to if you usually vote in person. This year there will be two options for voting in person:
• Early Voting Monday, Oct. 26 - Monday, Nov. 2, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street.
• Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at
• Pocomoke Community Center, 1410 Market Street, Pocomoke
• Snow Hill Middle School, 522 Coulbourne Lane, Snow Hill
• Stephen Decatur Middle School, 9815 Seahawk Road, Berlin
• Ocean City convention center, 4001 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City
The fastest and safest way to vote in person is on weekdays during early voting and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Election Day.
To make voting in-person as safe as possible, voters will stay six feet apart at all times and be invited into a polling place a limited number at a time. Lines and wait times may therefore be unavoidable.
One friend of mine, an expert on presidential elections at the University of Virginia, while absolutely respectful of mail-in voting for the covid- or otherwise-cautious, is so concerned that his vote be cast in person on election day that he says he “will crawl over covid-infected glass if necessary” to vote on that day.
Let’s hope that isn’t necessary anywhere!
The reasoning of some who favor in-person voting in 2020 is two-fold. First, West Coast voters may decide their vote is not necessary if informal vote counts when the polls close on the East Coast at 8 p.m. EST suggest that one candidate has a substantial lead among Election Day voters.
Second, one of the candidates could, based on an election day lead, “declare victory and clamp down on further counting, creating [an] election debacle,” far over and above that of the 2000 election of George Bush over Al Gore. These folks, experts among them, urge those who can to vote in person on or before election day.
Option 2. Vote by Mail-in Ballot. Some voters, like me, will decide that they prefer to vote by mail-in ballot this year.
Individual decisions about how to vote are varied and all valid. In a perfect world, I would prefer to vote in person.
Here’s my reasoning for voting by mail-in ballot this year. I am perfectly healthy and am doing everything I can to stay that way.
Still, I could become ill and not be able to go to the polls during early voting or on election day.
I might need to take care of someone else who is ill that day. I might feel nervous about voting in person even if I am able because my parents, under covid-19 quarantine at their senior living community and also voting by mail-in ballot this year, could need me at any moment.
Because of these 2020-specific uncertainties I requested a mail-in ballot, sometimes referred to as an absentee ballot. I plan to complete and submit my mail-in ballot as soon as I receive it. The sooner the better!
Any registered voter may vote by mail-in ballot. Here’s how.
Step 1. As soon as possible if you have not received one in the mail already, request a mail-in ballot
• Online at https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html or by Texting VBM (English) or VPC (Spanish) to 777-88 if you have a Maryland Drivers License or other Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) ID Card.
• In person at the Board of Elections at 201 Belt Street, Suite C in Snow Hill
• By mail, using a form you can
• Download from https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html or
• Pick up at the Worcester County Board of Elections at 201 Belt Street, Suite C in Snow Hill. If you cannot do this yourself for any reason, someone else, 18 years old and not a candidate, can pick up and return your ballot for you. In that case you or someone else can get a Designation of Agent form for you to complete at the Board or online at https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html.
Step 2. Check the status of your request if you do not receive your ballot within three weeks after requesting it or by Oct. 13, which ever comes first
• At the Worcester County Board of Elections (410-632-1320).
Step 3. Complete and submit your mail-in ballot as soon as you receive it.
• In person at a drop box at
• County Board of Elections, 201 Belt Street, Suite C in Snow Hill
• Ocean City convention center, 4001 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City
• By mail to Worcester County Board of Elections, 201 Belt Street, Suite C, Snow Hill, Maryland 21863.
You may have heard it asserted that mail-in voting is prone to fraud. I am convinced it is not.
Here’s one reason: Ben Ginsberg, a former Republican National Committee General Counsel, a practitioner of election law for 38 years and a former colleague of mine, wrote in a Sept. 8, 2020 Op Ed that “four decades of dedicated investigation have produced only isolated incidents of election fraud.”
Register to Vote. If you are not already a registered voter, you can register to vote when you vote in person.
You can also register to vote when you request a mail-in ballot as long as you do that by Oct. 15.
In either case, have with you proof that you are a U.S. citizen, a Maryland resident, and that you will be at least 18 years old by Nov. 3.
If you have been convicted of a felony, you must register to vote after release from prison even if you registered previously.
Teri Simpson Lojewski
Member, Democratic Central Committee of Worcester County