Middletown officials are moving ahead with plans for the town’s April 6 election, while also dealing with the COVID-19 viral pandemic.
It’s very challenging to try and hold an election while news and advice from the governor and federal officials is changing so rapidly, but the town plans to hold its election as scheduled, Burgess John Miller said in an email Friday.
Miller is running unopposed for his fifth term as burgess, while incumbent commissioners Chris Goodman and Tom Catania and challenger Jean LaPadula will compete for two commissioner seats.
Miller said the town has changed where the voting will be held to the upstairs of the town’s Municipal Center.
People will enter from the rear of the building, sign in and get their ballot, vote, and leave through another door to be able to avoid coming within six feet of anyone, Miller said.
He said the town has been consulting with the Maryland Municipal League’s coronavirus website, along with Gov. Larry Hogan’s directives and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to make informed decisions on the election process.
The town had received more than 300 requests for absentee ballots by Friday’s deadline, it announced in a release Friday.
There were 359 votes cast in the 2018 election, so they will be close to or above that turnout by the time voting is finished, Town Administrator Drew Bowen said in an email Friday.
The town’s Municipal Center is currently closed to the public because of the spread of the coronavirus, but it will be open for voting on April 6.
The hope is that with so many absentee ballots, the actual turnout on Election Day will be small, Bowen said.
Town staff will limit the number of people in the building to 10 at any given time, following orders from Hogan on the allowable size of public gatherings.
But in reality, there are rarely 10 people in the building at any give time on Election Day anyway, Bowen said.
“We are just using good old fashion common sense, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” he said.