Early Voting in Person in Maryland

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Baltimore County Election Judge on Duty

What motivated you to become an Election Judge?

Ken: I’ve been interested in politics and wanted to see how the process at the voting polls worked.

How long have you participated in Maryland elections as an Election Judge?

Ken: I was so interested that I have run for elective office several times in the past. Then in 2006, I decided I wanted to assist as an election judge because the Board of Elections is always in search of Republican election judges.

Have you heard any comments from voters about the importance of voting this year?

Ken: Many voters commented once inside that this is a very important election year to them. Several younger people turning out were first-time voters and proud to participate as well as older couples who enjoyed voting together as it was their civic duty to do so.

Early Voting Alterations for 2020

What new precautions has the Board of Elections taken to ensure the safety and health of voters who turn out to vote in person during Early Voting?

Ken: All the poll workers must wear a mask all the time. You have the option of wearing gloves and a face shield. You are required to sanitize your hands on a regular basis. They have assigned judges who wipe down the voting kiosk after each person completes their ballot.

How long have the voting lines been running at your location? A report stated that Maryland experienced the largest turn out for early voting on Day One this election cycle.

Ken: On Monday, the figure may have reached as high as 1,800 votes cast and people in line were still voting as late as 9:45 pm and the polls close at 8:00 pm. Whoever is in line as of 8:00 pm is legally permitted to vote.

How long is it taking the average voter to wait in line and then to cast their early voting ballot?

Ken: Some voters remarked to me that they had waited in line as long as five hours. However, once they were in the door of the polling facility, the average wait for voters to cast a ballot was only around 35 to 45 minutes.

Maryland Early Voting Practices

Why offer Mail-In Ballots when registered citizens can simply request an absentee ballot?

Ken: Normally, a voter would request to have an absentee ballot mailed out to them. Because of the unprecedented circumstances impacting the election cycle of 2020, the consensus months ago was that many voters would prefer to stay at home.

Are you confident that the USPS can handle the volume of mail with many voters eschewing voting at their regular polling place out of fear over the Wuhan virus?

Ken: I would like to believe that the postal system should be able to function and deliver ballots as anticipated.

What are provisional ballots?

Ken: A provisional ballot is given to a voter when an issue may arise if their ability to cast a ballot is called into question.

Why do they permit Same Day Voter Registration?

Ken: A young lady was not registered to vote and came into the polling facility today and registered to vote with proper documentation. Then she proceeded to be able to vote and cast her ballot on the same day in accordance with the Maryland statute.

Why is there an ongoing discrepancy over approving potential voters to produce a valid I.D. in order to cast a ballot at the polls?

Ken: The Board of Elections use to provide voter cards in the past and would mail them out to those registered to vote.

I report on duty to the polling facility around 5:30 am and found voters already in line had been waiting in line for several hours. People were seated in chairs with blankets to keep warm and had food or beverages with them. The voters are coming out in large, large numbers this year to vote. Everybody was getting along very well with each other and there were no instances of disturbance outside.

Ken Kondner has been participating as an election board judge at Baltimore County voting polls since the 2006 election cycle. The photo of Ken above is from 2018. Coincidently, Kondner has been designated as the Chief Republican judge several times because he was the only Republican judge present on Election Day at a polling place. Kondner has enjoyed his responsibilities working as a Chief Republican election judge on Election Day and as a regular election board judge during early voting in Maryland.

Author Profile

Timothy Tilghman
Timothy Tilghman
Timothy Tilghman is a Columnist for NRN. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Tilghman earned a Master of Arts degree in verbal and visual communications in December 2002. He has hosted a weekly radio program since June 2010. He has been a contributing Reporter to the Northern News since July 2013, which publishes weekly in Carroll County. Tilghman has written for two collegiate campus newspapers and published several independent newsletters.