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Maryland board recommends in-person voting on Election Day

A line of voting booths in the 3rd district of Baltimore City on primary election day in April, 2016. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

A line of voting booths in the 3rd district of Baltimore City on primary election day in April, 2016. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s election board voted Thursday to recommend having in-person voting on Election Day in at least one location in each county for the state’s June 2 primary.

The board’s vote modified a recommendation the panel made last week to hold an all mail-in primary in response to the coronavirus to protect voters and election workers.

Absentee ballots will be sent to all voters, and they will include a return envelope with pre-paid postage. Voters will be able to either mail in their ballots or drop them off at certain locations from May 21 through June 2.

There will be at least one location for drop off in each county and no more than four. On Election Day, voters will be able to vote in person at those locations.

“Based on extensive consultation with state and federal public health officials, the Board believes this plan achieves the necessary balance between protecting public health and safeguarding the right to vote,” said Linda Lamone, the administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections. “We do not adopt these changes lightly, and are taking the appropriate steps to ensure every eligible Marylander has the opportunity to vote either by mail or in-person.”

Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan moved the state’s presidential primary election back from April 28 to June 2 in response to the coronavirus.

After the board’s vote to hold an all-mail primary last week, the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly wrote that in-person voting is as essential as allowing some business to continue to serve customers during Maryland’s pandemic-driven state of emergency.

“The state must explore potential options for in-person voting opportunities for a limited number of our citizens to ensure that we are demonstrating that democracy can still flourish in the midst of a public health emergency,” wrote Senate President Bill Ferguson, of Baltimore, and House Speaker Adrienne Jones, of Baltimore County.

The recommendation goes to Hogan, who has the final say.

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