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Tight primary races on hold as state officials prepare to count mail-in ballots

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 23:27:08-04

BALTIMORE — Now, we wait for the mail-in votes to be counted.

However, election officials don’t know how long that will take.

It could take days, or it could take a couple of weeks before we know the winners of some of these hotly-contested races, including Baltimore City’s State’s Attorney Office and the Democratic nomination of the Gubernatorial primary.

Originally, lawmakers pushed for a bill that would allow local elections workers to count mail-in ballots early to further the process, but it was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Mail-in votes can’t start get counted until 10 a.m. Thursday.

“There are more ballots to count in this window, and for some of our larger jurisdictions, it's just going to take them a little bit longer than the normal 10 days to do that count,” said Nikki Charlson, Deputy Administrator of State Board of Elections.

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Election officials hope to have the races certified by the end of July.

“I'm not exactly sure how long it's going to take us,” said Ruie LaVoie, Baltimore County Director of Elections. “I know that we're going to be very aggressive in our canvassing. We plan to start tomorrow morning at 10am and we will work until eight or nine o'clock at night. We're going to work through the weekends. Our provisional canvass is the 27th, and then our plan certification date would be July 29th.”

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You might be thinking, why does it take so long? A machine does all the counting.

Local election boards have to be thorough and check for a few things so all votes can be counted.

“Local election officials will check to make sure that the ballot was timely mailed and received, that the oath was signed,” Charlson said. “And if both of those things are correct, then they will open the envelope and pull out the ballot, they'll check to make sure that it can be scanned by the unit, and make sure it's not torn or something spilled on it that will interfere with the ability to count the ballot.”

Baltimore City is a testament of how important it is to be thorough when checking votes.

Baltimore's Board of Elections reported 12 flash drives with votes were misplaced from Tuesday’s primary election.

Since then, all but two of the flash drives have been located.

Their election director said if the rest aren’t found, they'll go to the machines that saved the votes.

“There will still be probably some counting going on the first week of August but we want to make sure that every ballot is counted, and the local election officials know how to do this,” Charlson said. “We just need to give them time to count the huge increase in numbers of mail in ballots that we've seen this election.”