The Council received a briefing on Tuesday by the county’s election director.
Frederick, Md (KM). As the general election approaches, there are some important dates for all voters who remember. it you need to register to vote, change your registration, party affiliation, name or address, Election Director Stuart Harvey says you need to make apply by October 13th.
“The deadline to apply to get an mail-in ballot is October 20th,” Harvey says. “And there’s not an extended mailing deadline so that application has to be in our hands by October 20th.
During a briefing on Tuesday to the County Council, Harvey said drop boxes will be placed in various locations around the county. He says he will personally be delivering theses boxes on Wednesday to the Urbana Regional Library, Catoctin High School, Governor Thomas Johnson High School and Brunswick Middle School. “By late afternoon or early evening, if you’re in any of those locations or anywhere in the county, and wish to deposit either an application, a voter registration update, or your ballot, you can put all of those things in the drop boxes. And we will be emptying those drop boxes on a daily basis, starting Thursday,” he says.
There has been a drop box in front of the Board of Elections office on Montevue Lane for quite some time. “Now that the ballots are in the hands of the voters, today we had 169 ballots that we removed from our drop box which is essentially a full bin of ballots. It was overwhelming. And our parking lot has been very, very busy at the Board of Elections, people going in and out dropping their ballots off all day and into the evening. So we’re delighted about this,” says Harvey.
During the briefing, Harvey continued to encourage residents to vote by mail. In light to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said it’s the safest way to let your voice be heard. “Because I think what’s going to happen over the course of the next few weeks is that the flu is going to hit. I suspect that the number of COVID cases could rise. We don’t know how substantially. But I think that the safest to vote this year is to vote by mail,” he says.
Because of the sheer volume of mail-in ballots, Harvey says tabulation will begin on those ballots on October 13th. The results will be announced on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, after the polls have closed at 8:00 PM.
If you receive a mail-in ballot and decide to vote at a polling center, Harvey says you will be given a provisional ballot which won’t be counted until November 12th. “And the reason for that, if you’ve been issued a ballot, the poll book is going to show the judges at the voting location that you’ve already gotten a ballot, and the only thing you’re allowed to get at that point is a provisional ballot,” he says. “We then check the provisional ballot post election to make sure we’ve not gotten a mail-in ballot for you. And you’ve not gotten a mail-in ballot, then we count the provisional ballot.”
The Council also approved its legislative package for 2021. The “wish list”: consists of one bill and three position statements.
One position statement generated some discussion after the vote was taken. One requested the General Assembly to change some of the requirements for advertising public hearings on the constant yield tax. The state requires the counties to advertise that any property tax rate that’s exceeds the constant yield rate is a tax increase, even though the tax rate has not changed. Some local officials have found that confusing.
Councilman Phil Dacey voted against that statement. He said any position statement should have a Frederick County nexus. “And I’m opposed to the whole concept of not advertising the constant rate change. So I’m opposed to this legislation,” he said.
Councilman Kai Hagen had this response. “With all due respect to Councilman Dacey, this isn’t about whether we advertise, or debate or have public hearings on the tax rate. It’s only about how the language is affect and how that’s described,” he said.
The bill in the legislative package calls for special elections if a vacancy occurs on the Board of Education during the first year of a board member’s term. Currently, the County Executive picks a replacement and the Council approves.
Another position statement supports local authority be given to county governments when it comes to siting large solar utility projects. The final position statement supports allocating a certain percentage of the Maryland Strategic Energy fund go toward the Maryland Healthy Soil Program.
The County Executive is expected to hold a hearing on the legislative package on Thursday, October 8th.