By Ashley Feeney
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Howard County will receive a $688,226 grant to assist in the upcoming general election, county officials said Wednesday.
The funding was provided by the Center for Tech and Civic, an organization that helps communities get the resources they need to run fair and safe elections. The grant comes out of a $400 million donation the center received from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg to promote safe and reliable voting around the nation.
According to a statement released by the county executive’s office, the Center for Tech and Civic Life received applications from more than 2,100 jurisdictions from around the country. The grant will cover certain 2020 election expenses from June 15 to Dec. 31.
“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,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. “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.”
The funding will also provide Board of Elections officials with additional funds to increase site cleaning and sanitization costs in the midst of COVID-19.
“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,” Guy Mickley, the director of the Howard County Board of Elections, said in a statement. “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.
Ball believes that the grant will increase help to protect voters during the pandemic.
“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,” Ball said.
Mickley said voters should be aware that this year’s general election will be different from past elections.
He said the county recommends that all voters make a plan to vote this election. He said the county encourages absentee and early voting, adding that residents should expect longer lines and potential delays in counting the vote.
Early voting in Maryland will begin Monday and run through Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.