Maryland’s first vote-by-mail election ends today at 8:00 p.m. in Rockville in an effort to encourage more people to vote. Rockville’s voter turnout has declined regardless of the number of candidates or ballot questions, from 16.94% of registered voters in 2011 to 16.51% in 2013 and 15.87% in 2015, when the city held its first election to four-year terms. (Previously, Rockville’s elections were held every two years.)
In April 2018, Rockville’s Mayor and Council voted unanimously to follow the Board of Supervisors of Elections’ recommendation to implement vote-by-mail for the fall 2019 election. At least 22 states allow elections to be conducted by mail. Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, and some counties in California, hold elections entirely by mail.
In early October, the City of Rockville sent ballots to every registered voter living within Rockville city limits, using the address on their registration. Voters fill out and sign their ballots and return them by mail (no postage required), or drop off ballots at the vote center, or to the drop box at City Hall. Just remember, postmarks do NOT count and the only polling place today is at Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue (just south of downtown Rockville, off Jefferson).
Same-day voter registration will be available today at City Hall for residents who are not yet registered. Residents can register and cast their vote using a provisional ballot from 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. For voters who have not received a ballot, or who have lost or incorrectly filled out their ballot, a replacement ballot can be issued at City Hall.
Unofficial results will become available as soon as all ballots have been counted after the election deadline, 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 5, in the following places:
- Broadcast on Rockville 11 (channel 11 on county cable systems).
- Via social media on the City of Rockville’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Via text alert (text ROCKVOTES to 888777 to sign up).
So far, nearly 8,000 people have voted and it’s unclear how this extraordinary election will turn out. With a field of 13 candidates, votes spread across such a large field can allow moderately popular candidates to win. With vote-by-mail, if the number of voters increases as hoped, it’ll include more people who are undecided or moderately involved in city issues (the diehards always vote, the never-voted don’t vote). Finally, last-day voters can make a difference. Oregon’s experience with vote-by-mail shows that 8-16 percent of the votes come in on the last day–in Rockville, that can entirely change the outcome of an election.
For more information, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/election or call 240-314-8286.