A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends,

Your vote matters. We want the election process to go as smoothly as possible amidst this pandemic. The more people who vote by mail, the shorter the wait times at early voting and election day voting sites. Soon all registered voters will be receiving an application to request a mail-in (this used to be called an “absentee”) ballot.

I cannot say this enough – please vote by mail – and please do not request (unless you have to) the internet/email link, which has to be hand copied and requires two people per ballot to ensure the integrity of the ballot.

You can also request a mail-in ballot now by texting the letters VBM to 77788 or by visiting the Board of Elections website at 777vote.org. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is Oct. 20.

More information about voting by mail is here.

Mail-in ballots will begin arriving as early as the end of September, and there will be about 40 drop boxes available around the County to drop your ballot off if you would prefer that over the U.S. mail. In September, we will list the locations of the boxes.

And despite wrong comments from some at the national level, the drop boxes are safe – they will be secured to protect your ballot from fraud, and they are not a concern as a transmitter of COVID19.

If you are not registered to vote, it is not too late. The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 13.

As I wrote last week, our County-sponsored testing is back up and running. Click here for more information. We will continue to offer testing for people without symptoms, based on the advice of public health experts.

This week, I updated my executive order regarding reopening guidelines from the COVID-19 health crisis. Museums, art galleries and bowling alleys can now all open – with restrictions. Soccer games and scrimmages can also resume. However, the maximum number of people –including players, coaches and parents – remains at 50 per field.

The guidelines still keep our focus on keeping our residents safe. That is why the executive order also modifies the definition of a face covering to include covering the chin - as well as the mouth and nose. Our science, data and experts tell us this can make a significant different in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

I know that some are unhappy with the continuing restrictions on alcohol sales at restaurants after 10 p.m. We have found that later in the night, drinking increases and adherence to the necessary rules declines. We cannot risk an increase in spread. But we are continuing to review the restrictions and see what might be possible going forward.

Others are unhappy with the ban on live music performances. This is actually a State order and I have been in touch with the Governor to find out if modifications might be possible that would allow certain types of music performances with restrictions.

We are also getting closer to the opening of schools. I want to wish all our Montgomery County Public Schools students a good first semester, which will be all virtual. As a former elementary school teacher in a high poverty school, I understand the importance of connections between staff and students, but I also know that MCPS is doing what we all believe is necessary to keep our community safe.

And finally, I want to let you know that we are beginning a “Reimagining Public Safety” effort with community members More information is available here. The public is invited to watch.

Have a good – and safe – week.

Sincerely,

Marc Elrich, County Executive

(Watch the Video)

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