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Primary Election Results could be delayed weeks, says the State Board of Election

Mail-In ballots won't begin to be counted until Thursday morning
Baltimore City mail-in ballots.jpeg
Posted at 3:50 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 13:27:57-04

Primary election results could be delayed as late as early August in some races, according to the State Board of Elections.

That's because more than 500,000 voters in Maryland have requested a mail-in ballot for Tuesday's primary election.

A much higher number than 42,324 that were sent out in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

And despite the fact that more than 165,000 ballots have already been received by Boards of Elections across the state, election workers can't start counting those ballots until Thursday, July 21st at 10am.

The number of people who have requested ballots this year, represents nearly 13.4% of all eligible voters across the state. And in the last gubernatorial primary, only 24.25% of eligible voters cast any kind of ballot.

Here's a look at how the vote breakdown looked in the 2018 primary:

Pie chart showing percentage of voting methods among eligible voters in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

While early voting ballots can be counted ahead of time, a little more than 4.5% of eligible voter statewide took advantage of that option over the last week.

With such a large number of ballots not able to be counted until two days after election day, the State Board of Elections said in a media advisory that it expects "some local election offices will finish counting on July 29, while others will continue counting ballots the first week of August."

There was a bill in this year's general assembly that would've allowed mail-in ballots to be counted ahead of time, but while it was passed by both chambers, it was vetoed by the Governor after the close of the session.

Senator Cheryl Kagan, of Montgomery County, sponsored SB163 and says she was 'shocked' that the Governor chose to veto the bill.

"Senate Bill 163 would have addressed some of the glitches in Maryland's election laws. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan decided to veto it and has created a bit of a hot mess," she told WMAR-2 News.

We also reached out to the Governor's office and his spokesperson, Mike Ricci, provided us with the following statement.

"The governor is a strong supporter of early canvassing, so it’s unfortunate the legislature wasn’t able to pass a clean early canvassing bill in time for the election. Voters should not let that act of partisanship cast any doubt on the results and the integrity of our electoral process."

Kagan described that she was caught off guard by the veto, and that there wasn't communication from the administration that Hogan wouldn't sign the legislation.

"Governor Hogan's veto was bizarre, unexpected, and frankly, irresponsible. He specifically in his veto letter said, I think it's a great idea to count the ballots early. And I like this part of the bill and this part of the bill, but because of something that wasn't in the bill, he vetoed it," she says. "I think it was shocking, and really disappointing."

Both Ricci and Kagan highlighted the importance of getting this message out to Marylanders ahead of time, so that people understand what to realistically expect in terms of results.

"The State Board of Elections has been educating voters about the timeline for the results, and local boards should be doing so as well," wrote Ricci in a statement.

Kagan says, "Stories like this one.. are how we are going to make sure that Maryland voters understand the reason for the delay. One, it's because of Larry Hogan's veto, two, it's because our current law, which was not fixed, doesn't allow for the counting of, of mail in ballots until two days after Election Day. And three, we have a lot more mail in ballots than we've ever had before."

Disappointed that results are delayed? Vote here.