Early Voting Sites in Damascus and Potomac Need YOU!
By Pat Fenati
This year there is a new early voting site in Montgomery County, which is located in Potomac. It is crucial that this site be used by voters.
The new Potomac site, along with the one in Damascus, which was opened in 2014, have been the objects of ongoing controversy on the Board of Elections for an important reason. Local residents have promoted the locations for these sites in order to bring early voting to areas that are far from previous early voting sites, because previous sites had been mostly concentrated in more urban areas. However, Potomac and Damascus must be utilized in order to continue as early voting sites.
The following is a little history behind the threat to close Damascus. This argument could also be extended to Potomac:
In 2014, I spoke with others before the Montgomery County Board of Elections, asking for an early voting site in Damascus. The nearest one prior to the 2014 elections was in Germantown. The Germantown site, which until then had been the northernmost site, is up to 20 miles from homes in areas north of Damascus and the Laytonsville area.
I also based my appeal on the fact that the Germantown site was the most heavily used in 2012 with long waiting lines. Moreover, thousands of new homes were sold in Clarksburg between 2012 and 2014. Those voters were sure to put even more pressure on the Germantown site. In addition, Clarksburg is much closer to the Damascus site than the Germantown site. As a result of that 2014 hearing, the Damascus Recreation Center was chosen for early voting.
Unfortunately, Damascus was the least used Montgomery County early voting site in 2014. I believe there are two main reasons for that.
One was that the Damascus Gazette had closed early in the year and many people who had depended on that newspaper for updates of events were unaware that there was early voting at that location.
A second reason was there was almost no signage put out by the county. There was one small sign on Route 27 near Oak Drive where the Community Center for Early Voting is located. It was hardly noticeable when driving by. There were signs on Oak, but if someone did not know to turn onto Oak, those signs were not seen.
This year we fought to keep the Damascus site for early voting open, but if we do not turn out a higher number of voters this year, the State Board of Elections is threatening to shut it down as an early voting site. Potomac is under the same kind of pressure.
Please vote early in Damascus or Potomac.
And urge your neighbors and friends to vote at one of those sites. In fact, if someone lives anywhere in Montgomery County, they can vote at any early voting site, including Damascus and Potomac. We invite you to take a trip to the country and vote early in one of those sites.
The Primary Early Voting dates are
April 14, 2016 – April 21, 2016, 10am – 8pm
The Damascus site is at the Damascus Community Recreation Center
25520 Oak Drive Damascus, MD 20872
The Potomac Early Voting site is at the Potomac Community Recreation Center
11315 Falls Road Potomac, MD 20854
The Board of Elections is still looking for people to work as Election Judges. County Election Judges are paid for training and for working at the polls on election.
It is crucial that we have Republican Election Judges at all sites, both for early voting and on Election Day. The Board of Elections is required to look for applicants from both parties, but will take unaffiliated voters or even Democrats, if no Republicans apply.
The county is still taking applications for Election Judges The deadline to apply for the primaries is Wednesday, April 6, 2016. For more information, please call 240-777-8533.
The County Republican Party also needs volunteers to work outside the polls. To sign up to work outside the polls for early voting, please sign up here.