Planning an election with a heavy focus on mail-in voting, Frederick will have at least five secure boxes for people to drop off their ballots, and possibly six, for its September primaries and November general election.
While the city's plans aren't yet official, members of the Board of Supervisors of Elections briefed the mayor and aldermen on plans for the contests at a workshop Wednesday.
The boxes would be located at the site of the former Trinity School on New Design Road, the Frederick County Board of Elections office on Montevue Lane, Talley Recreation Center on North Bentz Street, Hillcrest Commons on Orchard Terrace, and the Housing Authority Office on Madison Street, Marc Mitchell, president of the Board of Supervisors of Elections, told the mayor and aldermen.
A sixth site on the campus of Frederick Community College is also possible, he said.
Mitchell said each box would have a security camera to watch it.
Because of the uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Board is recommending that every eligible voter receive a mail-in ballot that they can return or place in one of the drop boxes.
There would be four days of early voting and voting on Election Day, it would only be at the Trinity School site.
Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak said the possibility of an FCC drop box eased some of her concerns about equal access to the locations for all city residents.
She asked whether the board had considered using Frederick County Public Schools locations in the city.
They did, but with in-person school likely to be back in place in September, there was some concern about possible security issues, Mitchell said.
The community college has adult students, while a box with people coming and going at all hours to drop off their ballots could cause problems at an FCPS facility with younger students, Aldermen Kelly Russell said.
Kuzemchak said having voting at a school site could be a valuable civics lesson for the students.
“At the very least, we need to ask,” she said.
Ballots would be mailed to voters between 21 and 30 days before the election.
Seven candidates have filed to run for mayor as of Wednesday evening: Democrats Michael C. O'Connor, the incumbent, Alderman Roger Wilson, former mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty, and John Funderburk, and Republicans Jeremy Darius Abbott, Steve Garrahy, and Steven Hammrick.
Six Democrats have filed to run for alderman: incumbents Kuzemchak, Russell, and Ben MacShane, along with Katie Nash, Chris Sparks and Robert Van Rens. No Republicans have filed as of Wednesday.
The board is recommending four days of early voting at the Trinity School site, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 through 11 for the Sept. 14 primary and Oct. 27 through 30 for the Nov. 2 general election.
Under the plan, the boundaries of the city's 11 precincts would stay the same, other than adding any areas that have been annexed into the city since the last election.