Friday was the final day of tallying any remaining Baltimore City votes for this year’s state primary. The election was a week and a half ago, but city officials still needed to go through all of the provisional and absentee ballots before submitting their totals to the state board of elections.
And with a very competitive mayoral race with an unusually high turnout, candidates were eager to see the process to the very end.
"I want to get the count for this election. All the provisionals, all the absentees, so we can get the final count then get the breakdown based on precincts," said former Mayor and democratic mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon.
This year there were a record high number of votes. More than 130,000 residents participated in the primary. The last time turnout exceeded that number was in 1995.
Election experts attribute the increase to the competitive presidential race, however the race for mayor generated a lot of interest as well.
After election night on April 26, just 2,585 votes separated State Senator Catherine Pugh and former Mayor Sheila Dixon. However, nearly 11,800 provisional and absentee ballots were still unaccounted for, but not all of those votes were accepted. Of the nearly 7,000 provisional ballots, only around 4,000 contributed to the totals.
Votes were thrown out for a number of reasons, mostly from unaffiliated voters who were not eligible to participate in Maryland’s closed primary.
And after several days of sorting and verifying the results from both the provisional and absentee ballots, the gap between Pugh and Dixon only closed by 139 votes. The unofficial results show that Pugh maintains her first place finish by more than 2,400 votes.
“What we do is send the numbers that we have gathered here to the state board and they review those numbers and look at them and then they'll send a certification sheet here for the board to sign,” said Baltimore City Board of Elections Director Armstead Jones.
Final certification is expected to take place on Monday. Dixon is able to request a recount up to three days after the election is certified, however it would have to be on her dime. The state would not be required to pay for it. She also has the option to present a judicial challenge in response to some claims of voting irregularities.
The democratic nominee will face Republican Alan Walden in the November general election.