The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

A guide to voting at the polls or by mail

October 29, 2020

For+the+2020+U.S.+General+Election%2C+voters+can+either+vote+in+person+or+by+mail.+

Emily Zhao

For the 2020 U.S. General Election, voters can either vote in person or by mail.

As the federal election on Nov. 3 approaches, voters throughout the country are casting their ballots, albeit in a different way. The voting process has changed significantly this year because of the global pandemic. As ballots will take longer to count, the influx of mail in ballots will likely turn Election Day into Election Week. Shifting deadlines, the addition of ballot drop boxes, and limited in person voting are just a couple of ways that the voting process has been modified to accommodate these circumstances. 

For the 2020 U.S. General Election, there are two voting options. Voters can either vote in person or by mail. To find out one’s nearest in-person voting location as well as access early voting locations, one can confirm on the website Vote.org. The website offers a variety of services, including a polling place locator. In addition to location, it’s important to note the hours of the polling place and the possibility of changing one’s polling place. According to USAGov, the process of voting at one’s polling place may be changed to allow for a range of voting methods, increased available hours to reduce the voting crowds and wait times, and other accommodations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Checking a polling place close to Election Day to clarify these factors is suggested if there is a need to vote in person. “If people are going to in-person centers, they should definitely take standard COVID-19 precautions like social distancing and masks,” sophomore Jessica Sun said. 

Although early voter turnout has increased significantly this year, regulations regarding coronavirus still stand. “Polling places will definitely have to make sure that their voting booths and lines adhere to the 6 feet rule,” government teacher Andrea Lyons said. “Other than that, the only changes I have noted are because of the increase of mail in ballots, there are more ballot drop boxes around the county than previous elections.”

Voting by mail may eliminate the risk of contracting the virus, but it’s lawfully required to properly follow voting instructions. “While mail-in balloting is secure, I definitely think people need to check to make sure they’ve followed the requirements, like signatures and placing their ballot in the proper envelope.” government teacher Noah Grosfeld-Katz said. Since it is the first time voting by mail for many, several states (including MD) have relaxed the rules around mail-in voting by removing strict requirements. States have strived to make voting more accessible amid the pandemic by offering prepaid postage on election mail. 

Maryland has mailed an absentee ballot application to all registered voters and voters were required to have already requested for a ballot by this date. Voters must postmark their ballot by Tuesday, November 3, 2020, and make sure that it is received no later than Friday, November 13, 2020 by 10:00 AM. 

The Maryland state or local election office and the U.S. Vote Foundation are resources for further voting guidance, including registering, requesting a ballot, and looking up personal voter information. 

“The privilege of voting is one that citizens should appreciate and exercise,” government teacher Toni Kellinger said. Student voters play a significant role, considering young voter turnout is surging this year. According to The Washington Post, “Data on early voters and recent polling suggest eligible voters under 30 could break their historic 2008 turnout, when it peaked at 48 percent when Barack Obama was elected. New data suggest they may be on track to sustain their dramatic turnout in the 2018 midterms, when they more than doubled their rate of voting compared to the prior midterm election.” 

“We are the future and need to keep advocating for solutions to the issues that we feel will hold us back,” sophomore Alexandra Doncheva said.

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