“It’s all different this time” is how I explained it to my grandmother during our most recent phone conversation.

While I have not seen her since the beginning of the pandemic, we talk weekly, and because I seem to be the go-to person in our family for all things political, much of our conversations is dominated by politics.

I was the person she consulted to help her figure out how to vote, a service I am more than happy to take on, and I appreciate the opportunity provided by Jmore to share that information with our broader community.

Voting in the Maryland general election will look different than the primary election held back in June, but casting your vote is easy if you just know the right steps to take.

The Baltimore Jewish Council is joining with The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and each of its agencies to help spread the word that the best and safest way to vote in November is through the mail.

While in-person voting will be an option, as will early voting from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, the only way to avoid exposure to COVID-19 at the polling place is to vote from home.

So here is your quick guide to everything you need to know about voting by mail in Maryland’s November presidential election.

First, it is important to know that voting by mail is safe. In fact, a study of the 2016 election found only one single case of voter fraud by mail. Currently, six states already hold their elections entirely by mail.

Unlike the primary, though, Maryland will not be holding the general election entirely by mail. This is the biggest change. Instead, each registered voter should have received a form to request a mail-in ballot. The envelope has a purple strip on the outside — purple for bipartisanship of course!

However, we recommend that you simply go online and request a ballot be sent to you. You have until Oct. 20 to make the request. You can go to elections.maryland.gov and request a ballot right now, and if need be, update your voter registration information.

The state is now printing all of the ballots and is supposed to begin mailing them, only to those who request them, around the end of September.

So how do you return the ballot and make sure your vote is counted? After marking your ballot and carefully following all instructions, ensuring you have signed and printed your name, and dated in all of the correct spaces, you have two options for returning your ballot.

You can either mail it back in the provided pre-stamped envelope or drop the ballot in one of the designated ballot boxes in your jurisdiction. The state will have approximately 270 boxes, but you must use one in the jurisdiction where you live, so be sure to contact your local board of elections to find a box.

Boxes will open on Oct. 1. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3 if it is being mailed, or it must be deposited in a drop box by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 (the time that the in-person polling places close).

The Baltimore Jewish Council is committed to keeping you updated and informed so that you can remain civically engaged — what you need to know to cast your vote, the importance of completing your census, or other prominent issues affecting the community. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March we have doubled down on that commitment, and I invite you to check out all of our upcoming programming at baltjc.org.

Matt Peterson
(Provided Photo)

Matt Peterson is the assistant director of government relations and communications for the Baltimore Jewish Council.

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