Elections Officials’ Advice: Bring Mail-in Ballots to Drop Boxes

A voter drops a ballot in Rockville in October. Photo by Margaret Thale.

With reports of slow mail delivery across the country, Maryland election officials are urging voters to return their mail-in ballots at drop-boxes throughout the state instead of using the Postal Service.

Maryland State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone said in a statement that she doesn’t think voters who already cast their ballots by mail should worry, but said using a drop box will ensure ballots are counted on time. Mail-in ballots need to be postmarked by Nov. 3, and will need to get to election officials by Nov. 13 to be counted.

“While we don’t anticipate any issue with ballots already cast by mail, we are closely monitoring reports from the United States Postal Service that delivery times continue to be considerably longer than normal,” Lamone said. “In light of this, as we approach Election Day, we encourage voters to drop off their ballot at an authorized drop box. This will allow them to be confident their vote will be received and counted in a timely fashion.”

A total of 284 ballot drop-off boxes are scattered throughout the state for the upcoming election, including outside of every early voting center. Voters have until 8 p.m. on Election Day to use the drop-off boxes.

On Monday, the first day of early voting in Maryland, voters waiting in line at jurisdictions across the state told Maryland Matters that fears over Postal Service delays led them to cast their ballots in person.

The warning from state election officials came on the same day that Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, slammed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over mail delays.

In a release, the pair blamed DeJoy for the slow mail delivery. DeJoy previously came under fire for a slew of operational changes at the Postal Service that led to mail delays over the summer, including slashed overtime and the removal of mail sorting machines from facilities across the country.

DeJoy, a wealthy donor to President Trump, said he’d postpone any “longstanding operational initiatives” until after the election. Maloney and Connolly, however, say DeJoy hasn’t done enough to prepare the Postal Service for the election.

“Despite his assurances, the Postmaster General has failed to fix the problems he created and cannot be relied on for the on-time delivery of Election Mail,” Maloney said. “At this point, Americans should either vote in person or drop their ballot in an official drop box to avoid their ballots not being delivered on time.”

More than 1.6 million Marylanders requested mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election, according to data from the State Board of Elections. As of Wednesday, more than 1.07 million of those ballots have been returned to local boards of elections.

Marylanders who requested a mail-in ballot can still cast an in-person provisional ballot if they choose. If local boards of elections receive a mail-in ballot and a provisional ballot from the same voter, however, only the mail-in ballot will be counted.

On Wednesday alone, 159,246 Marylanders had cast in-person early voting ballots or provisional ballots. On Monday, the state saw a single-day early voting turnout record shattered as more than 161,000 voters flocked to the polls. Tuesday saw more than 153,000 voters casting early or provisional ballots.

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