The White Oak Community Recreation Center will be an early voting center in the 2022 elections, Montgomery County Board of Elections members decided at their Monday afternoon meeting.
Residents in White Oak, a community in eastern Montgomery County where a majority of residents are people of color, faced long Election Day voting lines in 2016 — sparking calls from fair elections advocates and community members for an early voting center in the area.
The Republican-controlled county Board of Elections previously rejected calls to establish an early voting center in the area in 2019, although a temporary expansion of early voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw the White Oak Community Recreation Center become an early voting site.
Board members voted Monday to approve the early voting center in White Oak and at 12 other sites for next year’s elections. They also gave approval for a fourteenth early voting center at the Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center, subject to approval and funding from the county government.
The Montgomery County early voting centers approved Monday are:
- Activity Center at Bohrer Park
- Damascus Community Recreation Center
- Germantown Community Recreation Center
- Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center
- Marylin J. Praisner Community Recreation Center
- Mid-County Community Recreation Center
- Montgomery County Executive Office Building
- Nancy H. Dacek North Potomac Community Recreation Center
- Potomac Community Recreation Center
- Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department Station 4
- Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza
- Wheaton Community Recreation Center
- and the White Oak Community Recreation Center.
“Our process on this was democracy in action,” Board member David Naimon said at the meeting.
Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery), whose district includes White Oak, said Monday that years of “community-driven advocacy” led to White Oak getting an early voting center. She also credited recently passed reforms to expand access to early voting for moving the conversation forward.
“We’re going to be seeing additional early voting sites all across the state,” Wilkins said.
Montgomery County is slated to have two additional early voting centers during the 2022 elections due to legislation passed earlier this year that will overhaul the state’s formula for early voting centers when it goes into effect in October.
Under current state law, Montgomery and other jurisdictions with more than 450,000 residents are required to have 11 early voting centers. House Bill 745, introduced by House Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery), expands that formula across the board and requires that counties with more than 600,000 residents have 13 early voting centers.
Counties can add an additional early voting center under both current law and Luedtke’s legislation. The bill also requires local boards of elections to consider additional factors, like accessibility to historically disenfranchised communities, when deciding early voting center locations.