There are competitive primary contests for governor and a few House seats on the ballot Tuesday in Maryland. Just don’t get your hopes up about knowing the outcomes instantly … or even perhaps soon.
Exactly how much patience shall be needed is unclear.
The pandemic has fueled a pointy rise within the number of individuals voting by mail. State officials throughout the country have rushed to update their rules to handle this variation. But in Maryland, election officials are prohibited from processing, let alone counting, hundreds of ballots which have already been sent in by mail until “after the election,” in accordance with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
No other state currently has such a prohibition, in accordance with the group. Many states permit the processing of ballots either “upon receipt” or at one other point before Election Day. Some wait to start the processing until Election Day, like Pennsylvania (starting at 7 a.m. ), South Carolina ( 9 a.m.), South Dakota (“prior to the close of the polls”) and Wisconsin (“after the polls open”).
Donna J. Duncan, an assistant deputy for constituent relations with Maryland’s Board of Elections, said in an interview that absentee and mail-in ballots will begin to be counted on the twenty first.
“Most local boards will finish counting on the twenty ninth but a number of the larger jurisdictions will go into the primary week of August, at the least,” Ms. Duncan said.
Back in April 2020, because the pandemic upended work and life across the globe, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland signed an emergency order allowing mail-in ballots to be counted ahead of the election.
That order has since expired and state lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to update their election rules. In April, lawmakers passed laws that might, amongst other things, allow for mailed ballots to be processed before Election Day, not after. But Mr. Hogan vetoed it, saying the laws failed to incorporate “basic security measures resembling signature verification” and “does nothing to handle ballot collecting.”
That left Maryland election officials with the unenviable task of handling pandemic-era levels of mail-in ballots with prepandemic rules.
In 2018 — the last midterm election 12 months — Maryland voters sent in a bit greater than 30,000 ballots to be counted, in accordance with figures from the State Board of Elections. This 12 months, as of July 13, greater than 161,000 ballots had been received.
Ms. Duncan’s advice for the general public: “Be patient for the outcomes. We’re methodical in our process.”