State approves Montgomery County's ‘voting centers’ for general election

State approves Montgomery’s 39 ‘voting centers’ for general election

County official says bilingual, Republican election judges needed

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Pictured is a mail-in ballot drop off box used during the primary election.

File photo

For this year’s general election, Montgomery County’s 39 “voting centers” will replace the usual 240 or so polling places for precincts, a state board decided on Friday.

The centers are part of the state’s Nov. 3 general election plan to have larger and fewer spaces for polling places. Officials have said it’s an effort to help improve health and safety, as well as cut down on long lines that voters experienced during the primary election.

According to the State Board of Elections, which approved the change, about 99.6% of the county’s registered voters live within five miles of one of the 39 voting centers.

Of the 39 centers, 25 will be public high schools. Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring is the only one in Montgomery County not on the list.

Eleven of the voting centers will also be early voting sites in the day leading up to Election Day.

The Election Day voting centers will be:
● *Activity Center at Bohrer Park (Gaithersburg)
● *Damascus Recreation Center (Damascus)
● *Executive Office Building (Rockville)
● *Germantown Recreation Center (Germantown)
● *Jane E. Lawton Recreation (Chevy Chase)
● *Marilyn J. Praisner Recreation (Burtonsville)
● *Mid-County Recreation Center (Silver Spring)
● Montgomery County Conference Center (Bethesda)
● Nancy H. Dacek Recreation (Rockville)
● *Potomac Recreation (Potomac)
● *Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department (Olney)
● *Silver Spring Civic Building (Silver Spring)
● *Wheaton Recreation (Silver Spring)
● White Oak Recreation (Silver Spring)
● All public high schools except Thomas Edison High School of Technology

(Sites with an asterisk will also serve as an early voting location.)

Early voting will run from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, followed by Election Day on Nov. 3. The hours will be from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. for early voting and on Election Day.

There will also be voting through mail-in ballots.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 13 and the last day to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 20.

During the state board’s meeting on Friday, election officials said the mail-in ballots will each have an individual tracking number.

Family members cannot copy a ballot so several people can use it. Each person who wants a mail-in ballot must apply for one. If ballots are copied, only one copy of the ballot will be counted in the election.

About four million residents across the state began receiving mail-in ballot applications on Friday through the mail and will continue to receive them over the weekend.

As of Aug. 20, 90,559 applications for mail-in ballots were submitted to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

According to state election staff members, some voters might receive a mail-in ballot application after being approved online if their online application was not processed before Aug. 6. That’s the date the state’s vendor was sent the list of addresses to send mail-in applications.

If residents applied for a mail-in ballot online but received a mail-in ballot application through the mail, the approval process for an online application can be checked through the voter lookup tool on the state board’s website.

Margaret Jurgensen, the election director for Montgomery County, told the state board on Friday that the county is “doing well under the circumstances.”

When asked how election judge recruitment was going, Jurgensen said the county always has difficulty finding Spanish-speaking judges, which are required at polling locations, and finding Republican judges.

“I have a lot of individuals interested in election judge [positions] but we have special needs, particularly with the languages,” she said. “In terms of a bench, yes, I have a bench. But I could always use bilingual individuals and we can always use more Republicans [as judges]. We’re very flush with Democratic election judges.”

Jurgensen said election staff members are working with the county to “appeal” to county employees to assist at early voting sites and voting centers on Election Day.

“In Montgomery County, we always have difficulty trying to find Republicans [as judges]. Aside from that, we have many individuals who have applied to be an election judge. We are in the process of train-the-trainer.”

As of last week, there were 2,641 election workers signed up for the county. Those include:
● Election Day chief judges: 232
● Election Day voting operations judges: 1,324
● Early voting chief judges: 35
● Early voting operation judges: 1,050

A spokesman for the county’s Board of Elections could not be reached Friday.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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