Elections | WYPR


Jamyla Krempel

The 2020 Election is quickly approaching (Nov. 3.) Here's a rundown of dates, information, and resources to cast your ballot and make sure it's counted. 

John Lee

A steady stream of Baltimore County voters is going to ballot drop off boxes at locations from Arbutus to Hereford with their mail-in ballots in hand.

A breakdown shows that the ones being used the least are in traditionally Republican strongholds.

 As of last Friday, the least used ballot drop box in the county was in Dundalk with a little more than 1,000 ballots cast. According to the county elections board, a close second was the one in Middle River with 1,133 ballots. Both are reliably Republican areas of the county.

John Lee

In Baltimore County, election officials are counting the more than 84,000 mail-in ballots they’ve received.

They are fixing some voters’ mistakes along the way.

photo by Rob Sivak/WYPR

Today, we’re going to talk about voting: how to do it safely and correctly, and efforts to assure that the results are accurate and that the election is conducted fairly.    

The 2020 election ends two weeks from tomorrow.  More than 28 million people around the country - about 20% of eligible voters - have already cast their ballots, either in person at early-voting centers, by mail, or by depositing them in official drop boxes.  Democrats have outvoted Republicans by a 2-1 margin in early voting, so far. 

For Maryland voters, tomorrow  (Tuesday, Oct. 20) is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot online for the November election.  Tom's first guest today is Nikki Charlson.  She’s the Deputy Administrator at the Maryland State Board of Elections.  She joins us on Zoom to explain what Maryland voters need to know about mail-in balloting, early in-person voting and election-day balloting...

John Lee

More than 1.5 million Marylanders have asked for a mail-in ballot for this fall’s election. If you want to vote by mail but haven’t applied to get your ballot, time is rapidly running out.

Screenshot via Brandon For Baltimore

 Brandon Scott, Baltimore’s Democratic nominee for mayor, has nearly two-thirds of likely voters’ support, according to a poll commissioned by Scott and obtained by WYPR. The poll asked voters both where they stand in November’s general election race and what priorities they want the next mayor to tackle.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, found Scott with 65% of the vote, Independent Bob Wallace with 14% and Republican Shannon Wright with 6%. The Democratic firm surveyed 400 likely November 2020 General Election voters in Baltimore from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6. The voters were both Republicans, Democrats, Independents and reflect Baltimore’s November electorate. The margin of error is ±4.9%. Polls commissioned by campaigns tend to paint rosier pictures of their candidates than polls commissioned by neutral parties.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  An unusually competitive general election race is heating up in Baltimore City’s District 12, where Green Party candidate Franca Muller Paz has outraised incumbent and establishment Democrat Robert Stokes.

Muller Paz, an activist and teacher at Baltimore City College High School, has campaigned on a progressive platform that emphasizes on community-centered crime reduction, combating the digital divide and investing in schools. She says the Democratic incumbent has not been fighting for the district.

Jamyla Krempel

You've probably heard it said that the 2020 general election is the most important election of our lifetime. (We hear that every four years.) Every Election Day is important, but the coronavirus pandemic promises that the Nov. 3 election will be unlike any we've experienced in the 21st century. (Read a story about voting during the 1918 Spanish Flu here.)


You have some important decisions to make--not just about who to vote for--but also how you'll vote. By mail? In person? By drop box? We know it can be overwhelming. We're here to help! Here's some things you need to know about voting in Maryland this year. 

Photo Courtesy / Brandonforbaltimore.com

Brandon Scott was elected President of the City Council by his fellow council members last year when then Council President Jack Young became Mayor after Catherine Pugh’s fall from grace.  

He was first elected to the Council in 2011 to represent the 2nd District. Before that, he worked in the office of then Council President Stephanie Rawlings Blake as her representative in Northeast Baltimore.  

In 2018, Jim Shea picked Mr. Scott as his running mate in their unsuccessful campaign in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. 

In last June's primary election, Council President Scott fended off a crowded field of challengers, including former mayor Shelia Dixon, to win his party’s mayoral nomination.

Brandon Scott is 36 years old.  He grew up in Park Heights, where his parents and family still live.  He lives in the Frankford neighborhood in North East Baltimore.

Maureen Harvie/WYPR

In the wake of disgraced ex-mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation, the Baltimore City Council introduced so many charter amendments intended to restructure power in City Hall that City Council President Brandon Scott created a new committee to manage them. 

Many of those proposed amendments made it to the November general election ballots. City voters can find a complete ballot preview here.


Voters tend to overwhelmingly approve ballot questions; in 2016, city voters passed all 10 of Baltimore's charter amendments and bond issues.  


Nick Mosby/Photo by Carde

Today, another in our series of Conversation with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Maryland Delegate Nick Mosby, the Democratic nominee for Baltimore City Council President.

Delegate Mosby has represented Baltimore’s 40th District in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2017. Previously, he served for five years as a member of the Baltimore City Council. 

In June, Delegate Mosby beat a crowded field of challengers in a primary that included City Council members Shannon Sneed and Leon Pinkett III.  His opponent in the general election next month is Republican Jovani Patterson.

Nick Mosby is 41 years old.  He and his wife, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, live in Reservoir Hill with their two young daughters.   Delegate Nick Mosby joins Tom on the line from his home. 

John Lee

Baltimore County voters are deciding if the county can use tax money to finance political campaigns. The proposed change to the county charter is Question A on the ballot.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The first of two statewide ballot questions this year could create a significant shift in power in Annapolis by allowing the General Assembly to move money around within the governor’s proposed budget. The legislature debated the proposed amendment to the state constitution for more than two decades before sending it to voters this year.

Photo Courtesy / Shannon Wright

Pastor Shannon Wright is a non-profit executive and host of the radio program and podcast called "Wright Way with Shannon & Mike in the Morning." 

Pastor Wright was born in New York. She’s a second-generation American of West Indian descent. She is a former Vice President of the Yonkers NAACP; she also served on the New Jersey NAACP state board of directors. 

In 2016 she was the Republican nominee in the race for City Council President. She lost in the general election to now incumbent Mayor "Jack" Young.   

Pastor Wright is 53 years old.  She lives in Parkville.  

Rep. John Sarbanes

Today on Midday, it’s another in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes, who is seeking election to an eighth term representing Maryland's 3rd Congressional district, which includes parts of Baltimore City, as well as portions of Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties. 

Congressman Sarbanes currently serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee  as well as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Since 2017, he’s chaired the Democracy Reform Task Force, a group of House lawmakers focused on minimizing the influence of special interests and ensuring fair elections.

Congressman Sarbanes is 58 years old.  He and his wife live in Towson. 

John Lee

In Baltimore County, some voters are not taking a chance on long Election Day lines. Hundreds have already voted this week by taking their ballots to drop boxes.  

AP Photo / Patrick Semansky

Last night’s Presidential Debate derailed into an unintelligible mess of cross-talk, insults, and misinformation within minutes. Voters were reminded that as long as Donald Trump is part of the political conversation, that conversation will be caustic, rude, and wildly unfocused.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins Tom to analyze last night's confrontation and what we might expect when the two candidates meet again. 

Photo Courtesy / Jovani Patterson

My guest is the Republican candidate for Baltimore City Council President, Jovani Patterson. He is a cybersecurity engineer and first-time candidate for elected office.  

 Mr. Patterson was born in the Park Heights neighborhood of Baltimore and raised in South Carolina. He later returned to Maryland and attended Capitol College in Laurel.  

Jovani Patterson has worked in IT and Cybersecurity for more than 20 years. He is also a musician who spent two years playing the drums with the Morgan State University Choir.  

 He is 34 years old. He and his wife live with their two children in Mt. Holly. 



MGA Legislature / YouTube

Less than five weeks before the election deadline--some state and local politics this morning! WYPR state government and politics reporter Rachel Baye updates us on what proposed changes in police powers and prerogatives state senators started examining in hearings last week. You can view the hearings here.

State Lawmakers Take Up 15 Proposals To Reform Policing
Families Of Police Victims Push State Lawmakers For Change
Police And Its Critics Back Changes To Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights

Then, Ian Round, who covers politics and accountability for Baltimore Brew, discusses the race for mayor of Baltimore, proposals that could shift power between the mayor and council, and a challenge to the District 12 council incumbent.

Muller Paz campaign event postponed after Eastside shooting
Robert Stokes latest campaign fundraising haul: $0.00

Screenshot via Brandon For Baltimore Facebook page

Baltimore’s three Democratic nominees for citywide office came together Tuesday morning to urge voters to elect their party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden, in a show of unity that was lacking in 2016 when then Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton appeared to be on the way to victory. 

“This election is about the fabric of democracy and whether our country can come back from the last four years of embarrassment to elect people who can help us,” City Council President Brandon Scott said at a news conference.


photo courtesy Mfume for Congress

Today, it’s another installment in our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  

Tom's guest is Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who represents Maryland’s 7th District .  Mfume won a special election in April to fill the vacancy left by the death of his long-time friend, Congressman Elijah Cummings.  He bested a large field of Democrats in a June’s primary and now, as he did last spring, Congressman Mfume is running against Republican nominee Kimberly Klacik.  He won their last race decisively. 

Congressman Mfume previously represented the 7th district  from 1987 to 1996, before leaving Congress to head up the NAACP.  The seat he vacated in 1996 was filled by Elijah Cummings. 

Rep. Mfume will turn 72 years old next month.  He is married to Dr. Tiffany McMillan, an Assistant Vice President at Morgan State University. They live in Southwest Baltimore.

Congressman Kweisi Mfume joins us on Zoom.

Listeners are welcome to join the conversation.  

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Maryland’s State Board of Elections began sending about 800,000 mail-in ballots to voters over the weekend.

To speed up the delivery process, out-of-state vendors shipped large batches of ballots to Maryland, where they subsequently entered the local mail stream as first-class mail.

“The quicker you can get into the mail stream in Maryland, the quicker people will get them,” Patrick J. Hogan, Vice Chair of the Maryland Board of Elections, said at a board meeting last Thursday. 

Wallace for Mayor Campaign

There are 49 days to go until the November 3rd elections. Among the many contests voters will be deciding will be the race for Baltimore mayor.  In addition to Brandon Scott, the Democratic nominee, and Shannon Wright, the Republican, voters will also have a Working Class Party candidate, David Harding, and a former Republican who is running as an independent, Baltimore businessman Bob Wallace.  The 63-year old Cherry Hill native, who founded and runs three local companies, says he wants to become Baltimore's "mayor-preneur," and to give Baltimoreans a real choice in leadership after a half-century of Democrat control of City Hall.

Today, Bob Wallace joins Tom for the hour on Zoom to discuss his independent mayoral campaign, in another of our continuing series of Conversations with the Candidates.  We also welcome calls, emails and tweets from listeners with comments and questions for Mr. Wallace.

Baltimore Heritage/Flickr

  The Maryland Board of Elections approved Baltimore City’s early voting and Election Day voting centers during a Friday meeting.  

Early voters can cast a ballot at eight early voting centers, which will open Oct. 26 through Nov 2. Those casting a ballot on Election Day will have 24 election day voting centers to choose from; early voting centers will also host voters on Election Day. 


The story of voting rights in the United States charts cycles of restriction and expansion. In her book, “Uncounted: The Crisis of Voter Suppression in America,” U-B Law associate professor Gilda Daniels traces a path from Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the Voting Rights Act to today, calling attention to barriers that block minority and marginalized groups from the ballot box. Daniels says these barriers erode confidence in our election system and chip away at democracy. Original airdate 2/19/20

You can hear more from Gilda Daniels at two online events coming up; the first is Monday, Sept. 21, at 5:30pm hosted by the Women’s Bar Association of DC. And on Oct. 1st in conversation through Kepler’s Literary Foundation in Menlo Park, California. That event, called “This Is Now: Fight to Vote,” starts at 9 pm EDT.

The Associated Press

Baltimore County’s elections director expects half the people who will vote in the county this fall will do it by mail.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Baltimore County has recruited 1,500 election judges to staff polling places, but the county is still looking for substitute judges to provide backup. To encourage participation, the county is offering judges a new incentive:  $100 more per day.

The Associated Press

If you are an eligible voter in Maryland, you should get your application for a mail-in ballot in the mail any day now.

It marks the start of a bizarre, unprecedented election season for voters and election officials alike.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

The long running dispute between Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and just about the rest of the known universe concerning how to conduct the November elections appears to have been resolved.

Election officials from across the state had urged the Governor to conduct the election the same way we voted back in June: a mostly mail-in election, with a handful of polling places open for a limited number of voters who either didn’t want to vote by mail, or were unable to vote by mail... 

The Maryland State Board of Elections is weighing a proposal to replace the small polling places that serve one or two voter precincts with a much smaller number of large vote centers. Local election officials are pushing the idea in response to a massive shortage of election judges and locations that can house polling sites.