Maryland 2020 Elections | WYPR

Maryland 2020 Elections

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... 

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The State Board of Elections plans to begin mailing all voters applications for absentee ballots on Aug. 24, State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan.

Although the state is encouraging all voters to submit their ballots by mail, Hogan has said state law requires every polling place to be open on Election Day this November. But legal experts say the state of emergency Hogan declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic could give the governor broad power to change how and when people vote.

AP PHOTO/BRIAN WITTE

Rebecca Wilson has been an election judge since 2004 -– but this November, you won’t find her assisting voters at the polls.  

“I consider serving in the polling place to be my patriotic duty, and I love doing it, but I will not volunteer for an unnecessary suicide mission,” Prince George's County’s chief election judge said.

Senator Bill Ferguson

In the primary elections in Maryland last month, most voters cast their ballots by mail for the first time.  For the State Board of Elections and local elections officials, it was the first large-scale effort to hold a vote by mail in Maryland history.  The mail-in process was, in the words of The State Board's July 2 report on the June 2 elections submitted to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, “not without issue."

Today on Middaya conversation about how we will vote in November, here in Maryland and around the country.  Because of the dangers for voters and poll workers associated with in-person polling stations, many elections experts and legislators think that despite the problems we encountered in June, the November election should be conducted largely by mail, with a ballot mailed directly to every registered voter, as was done last month in the primaries.  Last week, Governor Hogan rejected that advice, directing the State Board of Elections to plan for an election on November 3rd that will be held using the same basic parameters that were in place when we voted prior to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Read the Governor's order here.

That decision has been met with opposition from several groups, including the Maryland Association of Election Officials, Common Cause Maryland, State Attorney-General Bill Frosh and several state legislative leaders. One of those leaders is Tom's first guest today. Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson joins Tom via Zoom.

Harper Collins Publishers

(This program was originally broadcast live on June 17, 2020)

Nationally, the United States ranks 26th in the world in voter turnout.

Given the pandemic, a battered economy, widespread civil unrest and all that is at stake in the upcoming presidential election, it remains to be seen whether more voters will embrace the power they yield at the ballot box in November.

Tom’s guest is Kim Wehle, a constitutional scholar who has written a primer on voting: how voting differs from state to state, what the structural barriers are to voting, and how those barriers can be overcome.

Wehle is a law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a legal commentator for CBS News.

Her last book was called How to Read the Constitution and Why. Her new book is What You Need to Know About Voting and Why. 

The Daily Dose 6-17-20

Jun 17, 2020
Melissa Gerr

The MTA faces a Fall deadline for its nearly two-decades-old Central Maryland Transportation Plan, so how will it address the needs of riders in the midst of a pandemic? And COVID-19 hasn’t stopped the much-anticipated Maryland Film Festival, but it'll change how we experience it.

MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY/SCREENSHOT VIA WYPR

State legislators grilled top election officials on Tuesday about Maryland’s problem-filled June 2 primary, which included hours-long voting lines, delays for the arrival of Baltimore City mail-in ballots and temporarily deleted preliminary results.

Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, along with her board colleagues, appeared before the House Ways and Means and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committees to answer lawmakers’ questions and explain the errors.

COURTESY OF SCOTT CAMPAIGN

City Council President Brandon Scott claimed victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary for Baltimore’s mayor, as the latest batch of election results brought the gap between him and former mayor Sheila Dixon to 1.7%.

“Tonight, we celebrate a hard-fought victory for the future of Baltimore,” Scott said in a statement. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank my family, my team, our volunteers, those who voted for a new way forward for Baltimore, and everyone who believes change is not just possible, but long overdue.”

COURTESY OF HENRY CAMPAIGN

Though ballots are still being counted in the Baltimore primary elections, City Councilman Bill Henry declared victory in the Democratic race for comptroller Monday night, after amassing more votes than longtime incumbent Joan Pratt can catch up to.

The upset marks the first time that someone new will serve as Baltimore’s chief fiscal watchdog since Pratt was first elected to the office in 1995.

COURTESY OF THE SCOTT AND HENRY CAMPAIGNS

City Councilman Bill Henry declared victory over longtime incumbent Joan Pratt in the race for city comptroller, while City Council President Brandon Scott’s lead over Sheila Dixon widened slightly in the Baltimore City Democratic mayoral primary Monday night.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

  


  City Council President Brandon Scott has overtaken former mayor Sheila Dixon in the Baltimore City Democratic mayoral election by just 388 votes.

Up until a Sunday night voting count update, Dixon had maintained an edge over Scott in a crowded competition that was dramatically shaped by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest sweeping over Baltimore and the rest of the U.S. in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

City elections workers spent Thursday carefully separating City Council District 1 mail-in ballots from a mass of ballots from residents across the city at a hot warehouse in West Baltimore. The process delayed the counting of citywide mail-in ballots, which kicked off Friday morning.

A proofing error in the District 1 ballots rendered the initial results of the area’s Democratic council race between incumbent Zeke Cohen and challenger Paris Bienert and judge of the circuit court race unreliable. To attain accurate results, Baltimore City Board of Elections workers, working in teams of two, copied information from the original District 1 ballots by hand onto new ballots that can be accurately read by scanners. 

AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby

The Maryland State Board of Elections is in Day Two of its efforts to determine winners in the primaries for city-wide and city council offices in Baltimore City.  Given the reports of problems with both in-person and mail-in voting, the Governor made it clear in his remarks yesterday that he would like to see State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone removed from her job.  Other senior officials have made even more direct calls for her resignation.

As for potential winners, Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon maintains a lead in the race for Mayor, although she has not declared herself the victor in her race for her old job.  Marvin James, the campaign manager for City Council President Brandon Scott, who is in second place at this juncture, issued a statement yesterday afternoon that said We believe Brandon Scott will be the winner after all of the missing votes have been accurately accounted for and counted.”

Joining Tom on the line to discuss these and other election developments is WYPR’s City Hall reporter Emily Sullivan.

AP Photo/Brian Witte


A day after the polls closed, there are no final results for the highly anticipated Baltimore City Democratic primaries, due to balloting issues and unanswered questions from the state and city elections boards – including a printing error that rendered ballots for the 1st council district unreadable. 

Incomplete in-person vote totals published Wednesday morning reflect earlier mail-in only data: 

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon’s lead holds at about 30% of the vote. City Council President Brandon Scott has 24% and former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller has 17%.

AP Photo/Brian Witte

Maryland held its first statewide mail-in election yesterday (Tuesday, June 2, 2020). Late last night, the MD State Board of Elections announced the first batch of returns in the primaries, and then, at about 2:00 this morning, they removed their totals for Baltimore City from the website, without explanation. 

At about 10:00 Wednesday morning, the Board issued a statement saying that there was a “proofing error” in the ballot title for the Democratic primary in the 1st Councilmanic District, and that mail-in ballots in that district could not be counted properly.  They are looking into whether or not ballots in the other districts in the city were affected...

AP Photo/Brian Witte


It was a very long Tuesday night for voters and candidates alike in Baltimore and across the state, after Marylanders headed to the polls to cast ballots in statewide primaries. In  Baltimore, voters chose their picks in three powerful citywide races. But because of issues with Maryland’s mail-in voting system, there are no firm results for those races just yet. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan talks to Nathan Sterner about what we know — and what we don't.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez


Tuesday is the last day that Maryland voters can mail in their primary ballots for this year’s elections. And if they want to go to the polls and vote in person, there will be fewer polling places available because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Baltimore, where three citywide offices are being contested, there will be six in-person polling centers open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for registered voters who did not receive their ballots in the mail or prefer not to mail in their ballots.

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

The deadline to mail in ballots for Baltimore’s citywide primaries are next Tuesday. This week, WYPR is airing audio profiles of the major Democratic mayoral candidates. Today, we’ll take a ride along with Brandon Scott, the City Council President from Park Heights. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan reports

AP/Patrick Semansky

  


  Only about a fifth of likely Baltimore voters think the city is moving in the right direction, while 65 percent believe the opposite, according to a new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

That may explain why two of the top three mayor’s race candidates, Mary Miller and Brandon Scott, are polling so well, said Roger Hartley, the dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.

The numbers add to “the mantra that voters are looking for a fresh new face,” Hartley said. “With someone like Miller surging or someone like Brandon Scott, who's still doing well and has increased his support, they are those fresh new faces.”

ThiruForBaltimore

Today, the final installment in our pre-primary series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Thiru Vignarajah, a veteran city and federal prosecutor and one of a crowded field of Democratic contenders in the June 2nd primary election for Baltimore mayor.

A WYPR/Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll released yesterday places Mr. Vignarajah just outside the group of three leading candidates in the race, but the poll also indicated that crime reduction is the top priority for a majority of likely voters.  Will Baltimore choose a prosecutor to lead the City in the fight against violence and a global pandemic?

Courtesy of the candidates' campaigns

A new poll from WYPR, The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore shows Del. Nick Mosby, former councilman Carl Stokes and councilwoman Shannon Sneed packed tightly together in the Baltimore City council president Democratic primary race, and Comptroller Joan Pratt with a slight edge over councilman Bill Henry in an unprecedentedly heated race for comptroller.   

Jose Luis Magana/AP

The coronavirus pandemic has made many states declare mail-in only primary elections this spring in order to promote social distancing, Maryland among them. A new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore found that a large majority of voters say the mail-in election will not affect their decision to vote and that most voters trust the mail-in elections process as much as they trust standard elections.

“You have a totally different type of election,” said Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs. “It's not getting people to turn out on Election Day. It's not having a union pick up supporters or a church pick up supporters and drive them to the polls.”

Mfume for Congress

Today, our series of Conversations with the Candidates continues with the newest member of the Maryland congressional delegation, 7th District Congressman Kweisi Mfume. Rep. Mfume, who previously served five terms representing the 7th District from 1987-1996, before stepping down to head the NAACP until 2004, recently won back his old House seat in the April 28 special election held to fill the remaining term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Now, Rep. Mfume hopes to keep the seat for the next full term, and is campaigning for the Democratic primary election June 2 against a strong field.  He joins Tom on the line from his home in Baltimore to discuss the campaign, and some of the urgent issues now before the House. 

AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

  Ballots addressed to Baltimore City voters were not mailed until at least last Thursday, a full week later than planned and long after ballots were sent to other registered voters across Maryland.

A statement from the Maryland Board of Elections on Sunday said that the June 2 primary mail-in ballots for Baltimore City voters are now expected to arrive by May 23. The board had originally said that Baltimoreans could expect ballots from early to mid-May.  

 

Courtesy of Miller for Mayor

Today, we continue our series of Conversations with the Candidates.  Tom's guest is Mary Miller, one six Democrats considered leaders in the race for mayor. 

This is Ms. Miller’s first run for political office. After a long career at T Rowe Price, she was appointed by President Obama to top jobs at the Treasury Department. She was the first woman to serve as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.   For the last few years, she has been a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University 21st Century Cities Initiative. 

A reminder that the primary is being conducted primarily by mail. If you are a registered voter, you should be receiving your ballot soon. Remember that the ballot has to be signed and postmarked by June 2. If you are not yet registered to vote, there’s still time. The deadline to register is May 27. For more information about how to register to vote, click here.

Maryland State Archives

Ballots arriving in voters’ mailboxes list the upcoming statewide primary election date as April 28, but the election is actually on June 2.

Nikki Charlson, the Deputy Administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, told state legislators Wednesday that the error occurred because the ballots were printed before Gov. Hogan’s decision to postpone the election due to the coronavirus pandemic back in mid-March.

Office of the Mayor

It's another edition of our series of Conversations with the Candidates, and Tom's guest today is the Mayor of Baltimore, Bernard C. "Jack" Young, a veteran city lawmaker and former City Council President who stepped into the mayor’s job about a year ago when Catherine Pugh resigned.

Mayor Young has spent years in city government, and the year he has spent as Baltimore's mayor has been eventful, to say the least.  It began with a crippling ransomware attack on the city’s computer system and now, of course, the city is dealing with an unprecedented global pandemic.  More than 2,800 city residents have been infected with the coronavirus.  Nearly 150 Baltimoreans have died from COVID-19.  And, the longstanding problem of violence on city streets remains.  More than 92 people have been victims of homicide so far this year.

Screenshot via House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Facebook page

 


  Kweisi Mfume is officially a U.S. Congressman once again. 

On Tuesday, the Democrat was sworn in to Congress by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to represent Maryland’s 7th congressional district through the rest of this year. 

“We’re very honored to have the Maryland Delegation... and all of us to welcome Rep. Mfume back to the House of Representatives, where he served with such distinction,” Pelosi said. “We look forward to again welcoming him when we’re all together, hopefully in a short period of time.”

Joel McCord

Voters in Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District headed to the polls Tuesday to choose someone to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

But the turn-out was extremely light in an election conducted almost completely by mail-in ballot.

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer


On Tuesday, the state of Maryland will do something it’s never done before: conduct an election almost completely by mail. Ballots for the 7th congressional district special election to fill the remainder of the late Elijah Cummings’ term in Congress must be postmarked on the 28th or placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday. 

Gov. Larry Hogan decided to hold the election by mail last month in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has closed businesses and forced schools to hold remote classes for an indefinite period of time.

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