The presidential elections are on November 3, but from Monday, October 26 and Tuesday, October 27, thousands of people in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia will be able to vote in advance.
In Maryland, early voting in person will take place from October 26 through November 2, from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, at approximately 80 voting centers throughout the state.
In the District of Columbia, advance elections begin October 27 through November 2, from 8:30 am to 7:00 pm in 32 locations.
In Virginia, citizens began voting early in September. Early voting ends on October 31. As of Sunday, October 18, more than 675,000 people had voted early in the state and more than 500,000 in absentia (by mail), according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project.
Early voting is different from absentee voting
There is a difference between absentee voting and early voting.
“Absentee voting is nothing new, it is historical. Our military abroad have always cast their vote in absentia, sending their ballot by mail, ”said Elizabeth Guzmán, a state delegate from Virginia, to El Tiempo Latino.
This type of vote is regularly allowed to be used by people who have a valid excuse to vote before the official date of the elections. The citizen has to request a ballot from the Board of Elections of his state. You fill it out and you can return the ballot through the mail or deposit it in special mailboxes of the Electoral System. Also when a specific voting center is enabled in advance, you can take the ballot in person.
Absentee voting usually requires a witness to verify that the person is casting the vote.
However, to facilitate this type of vote in the midst of the pandemic, many states, including Virginia, have lifted these requirements. “Now you can vote early, without making any excuses. Nor do you need a person to verify the signature on the ballot, “said the delegate.
In Maryland and DC you do not need to provide a justification for absentee voting.
Early Voting (in person):
Early voting does not require making excuses, nor does it require people to have requested a ballot in advance. Citizens cast their vote before “Election Day” just as it is on the Election Day (November 3). “People only need to bring their identity document, stand in line and vote,” Verónica Cool, spokeswoman for the Maryland Board of Elections, told El Tiempo Latino.
Early voting did not exist in Virginia, only in absentia. “But this year the Assembly approved it to make it easier for more people to vote,” said delegate Guzmán.
People who vote in advance do so in specific voting centers that are different from the electoral precinct where it was usually the citizen’s turn to vote.
Places in Maryland
More than 80 early voting polls will open in Maryland on Tuesday 26th. For more information on polling places and other early voting issues, visit: elections.maryland.gov/voting.
Places in DC
In the District of Columbia, 32 polling places are scheduled to open for early suffrage.
“These places are not the same as the voter’s place on Election Day. Citizens can go to any location to vote early, ”Cool explained. For information on early voting centers, visit: earlyvoting.dcboe.org.
Places in Virginia
In Virginia, you can vote early from September 18 to October 31. “The law we passed allows early voting 45 days before the election,” Guzmán said. At first, people could only vote in some centers, but the number of polling places has been expanded for two weeks. For more information on absentee and early voting, visit: www.elections.virginia.gov.
Anti COVID-19 measures and recommendations
At all polling places, citizens are required to wear their respective masks and to respect social distancing.
People must be prepared to face long lines. In Fairfax County, for example, on the first day of early voting, citizens formed huge lines, waiting up to four hours to complete the process.
“So we are recommending certain measures so that they can wait patiently,” Cool said. It is recommended:
Do not bring children, because it is estimated that they can be waiting for a couple of hours.
Bring cold cuts (snacks) and water.
Carry benches or folding seats.
Dress appropriately to withstand the cold, if necessary.
Throughout the country there are already more than 28 million people who have cast their vote in advance, a sum that greatly exceeds the 2016 elections.