“Fraudulent!” “Rigged!” Familiar words in the run-up to the 2020 November election. Maryland’s first-ever broad vote-by-mail election suffered some unfortunate glitches (not in Cecil County), but they now serve as lessons learned to ensure every vote counts in November. What should we believe about the integrity of our electoral process in these days when the election landscape is so impacted by COVID-19 and partisan rhetoric?

The US Election Assistance Commission’s website reports, “Every state’s election infrastructure is protected by an intrusion detection system, known as an Albert sensor, and all 50 states and more than 2,500 local jurisdictions receive real-time threat information.” From July 28-30 of this year, the Department of Homeland Security ran its third annual simulation of cyber-threats to elections, with 37 states participating in the exercise, preparing election officials for cyber-attacks.

Washington State’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman attested to the sheer improbability of mass counterfeit ballots, citing the obstacles presented by the uniqueness of every jurisdiction’s process: security envelopes, barcodes, timing marks, specialty stock paper, differing local candidates, differing referendums, etc. A post-election review of Washington’s 2018 election revealed 142 cases of fraud out of 3.2 million votes, or 1 out of every 22,500. She expressed alarm about President Trump’s unsubstantiated denunciation of vote-by-mail, which in many jurisdictions is virtually indistinguishable from absentee ballots: “I think it really shatters peoples’ confidence in the process. We need to make sure we’re inspiring confidence in the public that this is a fair election.”

To help ensure a fair election, stay informed. Maryland’s General Election 2020 will differ in an important way from the Primary Election held in June, 2020, when all registered voters received a mail-in ballot automatically. For the November election every registered voter will instead receive a postage-paid application for a mail-in ballot. Your application must be received by October 20 to qualify for a mail-in ballot. Upon receiving your ballot, return it in the postage-paid envelope, postmarked by November 3. Alternatively, drop your ballot in one of Cecil County’s four secure drop boxes 24/7, from Oct. 22 through 8 PM on Election Day; submit in person at the Early Voting Center; or submit in person at your polling precinct on Election Day. Be prepared to wait days for election results as unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots are scanned and processed. For full information on voting, visit https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/index.html or call Cecil County Elections at 410-996-5310.

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