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Sandy forces Maryland to change some election rules

The storm that displaced some Marylanders and plunged many more into darkness this week has forced some changes to the state’s election rules, including another announced Thursday that allows late absentee voting applications.

Gov. Martin O’Malley signed an executive order Thursday that allows election officials to accept any application received in the mail today and also allows residents still outside of their home county due to superstorm Sandy to file a late application for an absentee ballot.

“From National Guard members assisting residents in Garrett County to residents displaced from their homes on the Eastern Shore, everyone should have the opportunity to cast their vote,” O’Malley said in a statement.

The governor already had extended early voting in the state after losing Monday and Tuesday to the effects of Sandy. Friday was added to make up for Monday, and the hours of polling places were extended to make up for most of Tuesday.

Early voting, which will close Friday at 9 p.m., has been well-attended thus far, surprising some who have had to wait in long lines to cast their votes. The regular federal Election Day is Nov. 6.