White Oak among planned locations for Montgomery Co.’s early voting centers in 2022

The White Oak Community Recreation Center is one of 19 potential locations being considered for early voting centers in the 2022 election, members of the Montgomery County Electoral Board said in a meeting Monday afternoon.

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The White Oak Community Recreation Center is one of 19 potential locations being considered for early voting centers in the 2022 election, members of the Montgomery County Electoral Board said in a meeting Monday afternoon.

The county will be able to establish up to 14 early voting centers in the 2022 election, and fair election advocates have long been calling for an early voting center in White Oak, a majority minority community in the east of the county. of Montgomery where residents faced a long vote on Election Day. lines in 2016.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections will hold a public hearing on White Oak and other proposed early voting centers on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 10 a.m., council members decided on Monday. The hearing will be held in the Montgomery County Council Chamber.

At Monday’s meeting, Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Election Law subcommittee, described the White Oak Community Recreation Center as an “ideal” early voting center for residents. from the eastern part. of the county due to its accessibility by public transport and its central location.

“White Oak is a diverse and multicultural community that deserves direct access to an early voting site,” Wilkins said.

The White Oak Community Recreation Center was used as an early voting center in the 2020 unconventional election, which saw a temporary expansion of early voting centers statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fears regarding the potentially overcrowded vote on election day. The 2020 elections saw an increase in the use of postal and early voting due to the pandemic.

In addition to the White Oak Community Recreation Center, the following locations are also considered early voting centers:

  • Activity center at Bohrer Park
  • Bauer Parkway Community Recreation Center
  • Coffield Community Recreation Center
  • Dacek Community Recreation Center
  • Damascus Community Recreation Center
  • East County Community Recreation Center
  • Executive office building
  • Germantown Community Recreation Center
  • Lawton Community Recreation Center
  • Long Branch Community Recreation Center
  • Longwood Community Recreation Center
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center
  • Praisner Community Recreation Center
  • Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department
  • Silver Spring Municipal Building
  • Upper County Community Recreation Center
  • Wheaton Community Recreation Center.

Some of these centers have potential caveats, according to meeting documents: The Coffield Community Recreation Center and the Long Branch Community Recreation Center will serve as homeless shelters for women and men respectively until the end of the year. this year, with renovations scheduled for 2022. The gymnasium at the Praisner Community Recreation Center does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wilkins noted that Montgomery County will have two more early voting centers in next year’s election due to recently passed legislation: Bill 745, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric G Luedtke (D-Montgomery), will revise the state’s formula for determining the number of advance polling centers based on the population of counties when it goes into effect in October.

Under the state’s current early voting center formula, counties with fewer than 125,000 registered voters are only required to have one advance polling center. The number of centers required in each county increases with population, up to 11 early voting centers for counties with more than 450,000 registered voters.

When Luedtke’s bill comes into force, this figure will change so that counties with more than 50,000 inhabitants will typically add additional polling centers, up to 13 early voting centers for counties with more than 600,000 voters. registered. And the counties and the city of Baltimore will always be able to add an additional polling center, if necessary.

Luedtke’s bill also requires local electoral councils to consider additional factors, such as accessibility to historically disenfranchised communities, when selecting sites for early voting centers. He said early voting access in White Oak was part of his reason for bringing the bill forward.

“The reality is that for a lot of people in this community it is very difficult to access other early voting sites because there is so much addiction to public transport,” Luedtke said on Monday. “It makes sense to me that this is a site. “

Luedtke also cited concerns about early access to voting in St. Mary’s County as the reason for the legislation. Maryland Democratic Party President Yvette Lewis and MP Brian Crosby (D-St. Mary’s) said last year that the decision by local election officials to have only one early voting center in elections general elections of 2020 amounted to a “voter suppression”.

Luedtke said he believes early voting will continue to be a popular option for voters in the future.

“Early voting is becoming more and more popular with each cycle,” said Luedtke. “You have more and more requests for an early vote, and we must respond to that request. “

In addition to increasing the number of early voting centers that will be in place in counties across the state, lawmakers have also extended the opening hours of early voting centers for primary and general elections during the session. Legislative 2021: Senate Bill 596, sponsored by Senator Mary L Washington (D-Baltimore City) and tabled as HB 206 by Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s), will demand that early voting centers be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day of advance polling, for each election.

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