Voters encouraged to cast absentee ballots amid COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 11:57 AM CDT
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Because of the coronavirus pandemic, voters are being encouraged to cast absentee ballots in the upcoming runoff election set for July 14.

Election officials say absentee voting is a way make sure your vote is counted while minimizing person to person contact.

“Voters are encouraged to vote absentee due to the health crisis that we’re in with COVID-19. There are a lot of voters who are concerned of going to the polls, and so absentee voting is an option for them. For those voters who have concerns of being around a lot of people going to the polls, we still want to encourage them don’t not go to the polls, absentee voting is an option to do,” said Gina Ishman, Montgomery County’s Absentee Election Manager.

Just like so many other things during this pandemic, this is new territory for a lot of people. There are a lot of steps, but the process is fairly simple.

“I don’t want voters to To be discouraged, I just like to simplify it as two really three easy step. You know, the voter needs to get the application. That’s the first step,” Ishman referenced her office’s website. “So that voter has to complete that application and sign it and has to provide a copy of their ID along with the application and they mail it to our office. Once we get that application in our office within 24 hours, we mail them their ballot."

Ishman says her office then has to process and verify the voter and what district they’re in.

“We mailed them their ballot. Once they have their ballot at home, it comes with everything they need to vote; set of instructions, their ballot, all the return envelopes, and they mark their ballot. They complete the affidavit envelope,”Ishman says.

Ishman says the ballot does require the voter to get it witnessed or have a notary.

"They mail that ballot back to us and then they voted.” Ishman adds.

Time is running out to request your ballot and mail it in. You’ll need to apply for an absentee ballot by July 9th, so you’ll need to call and have that application mailed to you, or find it online to print out at this link.

A couple of things to remember here: you must provide a copy of your valid ID with your application, and your ballot requires two witnesses or a notary. Those witnesses can be anyone 18-years-old or older.

Montgomery County’s absentee voting office has already received more applications for this runoff than it did for the primary. That office is working hard to process those applications, put absentee ballots in the mail, and receive the completed ballots for election day.

Ishma, says her office works hard, and with integrity, to make sure every vote is counted and every voter’s identity is protected.

“There is a process on election day when those ballots are counted. So, there’s a set of poll workers that come in on election day and so there’s a set that opens up the secrecy envelope. The ballot goes into the secrecy envelope and once that secrecy envelope is out of the affidavit envelope that has the voters identification, it goes to a separate poll worker who opens up the secrecy envelope with the ballot. So there’s, you know, there’s two different individuals poll workers who are touching each envelope. So, that way that does protect the identity of the voter in that aspect,” Ishman explained.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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