More than a third of Frederick County’s registered voters have requested mail-in ballots, as early voting starts at four places Monday.
Two of those locations—Catoctin High School and Gov. Thomas Johnson High School—are different from typical early voting sites. The county’s Board of Elections approved those new locations in August, due to space restrictions at the Thurmont Regional Library, and because Frederick Senior Center is being used for senior meal delivery and other needs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to state election data, there are 186,356 registered voters in Frederick County, as of Oct. 17. Of those, 68,794 voters requested a mail-in ballot, and 37,625 have been returned to the Frederick County Board of Elections as of Oct. 23.
Along with the aforementioned sites, Middletown Volunteer Fire Company Activities Building and Urbana Regional Library will also serve as early voting centers, from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Social distancing will be enforced at all sites, and face coverings are encouraged. Election Director Stuart Harvey has previously stated if voters do not want to wear face coverings, they will either be able to vote outdoors, or in an isolated area inside the voting center.
He said in an email Friday that 21 election judges/workers would be staffed at each of the four early voting locations. Line managers will help if any of considerable length start to form, Harvey added.
A provisional ballot will be issued to voters who have already requested a mail-in ballot, but want to vote in person. That will be shown in the pollbook when that voter arrives at a voting center, Harvey said.
“The person must fill out an application, and they are then issued a ballot, which is returned to our office by election staff every night,” Harvey wrote in an email. “They are not cast at the polls. After reviewing the ballot, if we do not receive the person’s mail-in ballot, it is counted. That counting of these ballots does not occur, by law, until Nov. 12.”
In the 2016 presidential general election, 126,812 Frederick County residents cast a ballot out of 164,464 registered voters—a 77.1% voter turnout.
Harvey predicted a turnout of 85% for this election.
“This is the highest interest in an election I have seen since 1992. It is possible the county could see record turnout,” Harvey wrote in an email.