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Blog COVID-19 in Maryland Election 2020

After Losing Some Election Volunteers To COVID Concerns, Howard Receives Grant To Help

Howard County election officials plan to use a nearly $700,000 grant to pay for staffing and personal protective equipment during the upcoming election, they announced Thursday.

Officials received a $688,226 grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit election advocacy group. The center’s grants were funded with a $400 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

“This year’s general election is one of the most important and consequential in our lifetimes with the additional complications of keeping our voters safe during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a release. “I am thankful that our Board of Elections under the leadership of Guy Mickley sought out and received this grant that will help greatly offset the increased costs of staffing and personal protective equipment.”

More than 2,100 jurisdictions across the United States have applied for the center’s grants so far, according to the organization. Those grants cover certain election-related expenses that local governments incur between June 15 and Dec. 31.

According to a release, county election officials will use the grant to pay for “the recruitment and hiring of a sufficient number of poll workers and inspectors” in addition to paying for personal protective equipment like gloves and hand sanitizer.

News of the grant came just a day after The Baltimore Sun reported that nearly 100 Howard County election judges have quit in the lead-up to election day, with some citing rising Covid-19 numbers as the reason for their resignation. Local election boards struggled with vacant poll worker positions before state officials opted to open limited in-person voting centers instead of regular Election Day polling locations.

Local jurisdictions aren’t the only ones feeling the financial strain from extra costs brought on by the election: the State Board of Elections needed an additional $20 million to conduct the Nov. 3 election, citing the cost of printing mail-in ballots and applications.

“To face the multitude of challenges of this year’s election, costs are much higher, and this grant will help offset the cost to the Howard County taxpayers,” Ball said.

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After Losing Some Election Volunteers To COVID Concerns, Howard Receives Grant To Help