County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Board of Elections announced that Howard County received a COVID-19 response grant of $688,226 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to assist in the upcoming general election with increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life comes from a $400 million donation from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to promote safe and reliable voting around the nation and provide Board of Elections officials with additional funds for staffing, training and equipment necessary to ensure a fair and equitable election. The Howard County Board of Elections will utilize these funds to offset the growing election judge and staffing costs of running a 50% mail-in election and in-person voting simultaneously. Additionally, this grant will be used to pay down the costs of PPE, including: masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and plexiglass shields for the judges in the polling places, and masks for any voter that does not have one upon entering.
“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,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “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. On behalf of the residents of Howard County, we are very appreciative for the Center for Tech and Civic Life and the donations of Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to assist us in ensuring all our voters have a safe and more equitable election. I encourage all voters in Howard County who are registered and eligible to make a plan to vote by utilizing early voting, drop boxes for absentee ballots, and allowing yourself enough time to cast your vote at your polls.”
According to the Center for Tech and Civic Life, over 2100 jurisdictions from around the nation applied for these competitive grants to date. This grant is available to cover certain 2020 election expenses incurred between June 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020, which include the costs associated with the safe administration of certain election responsibilities. The grant covers the recruitment and hiring of a sufficient number of poll workers and inspectors, providing voting facilities with funds to compensate for increased site cleaning and sanitization costs, and delivery of updated training for current and new poll workers administering elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Howard County Board of Elections has been laser focused on the health, safety, and efficiency of conducting this challenging general election; this grant will greatly assist our efforts and thank the Center for Tech and Civic life for these much-needed funds,” said Guy Mickley, Howard County Board of Elections Director. “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. We recommend that all voters make a plan to vote this election, encourage absentee and early voting and be aware that this year’s general election will be very different and could consist of longer lines and potential delays in counting the vote.”
Early voting in Maryland begins starts next Monday, October 26 and runs through Monday, November 2 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., at five locations throughout Howard County. Additionally, nine “drop boxes” are currently available across the county for voters to cast their absentee ballots. All mail-in ballots will also be counted if postmarked by November 3. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, 17 Howard County poll locations will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Any Howard County voter can vote any poll location for early voting and Election Day voting.