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WYPR Election Coverage

A Disconcerting Election Day

Jun 2, 2020
Mary Rose Madden

Voters faced an election day Tuesday tinged with fears of COVID-19, protests over police misconduct and with questions about mail-in ballots. Some of them never arrived and others went to the wrong addresses.

And even though this was supposed to be primarily a mail-in election, more than 11,000 voters had shown up at the polls shortly after midday, according to state election officials.

An election monitor at Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore said many were lined up at 6 am, an hour before the polls opened.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

In what may be the first-ever primary election held during a pandemic, state elections officials urged as many people as possible to mail in their ballot or drop it at a dropbox, rather than go in-person to the polls. But some Baltimore City voters never got their ballots in the mail.

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.

Mark Gunnery/WYPR


Protests continued in Baltimore on Monday as young people flooded the streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. 

 

The youth-led protest marched through downtown Baltimore on Monday, calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality. Taking up several city blocks, protestors marched onto I-83, blocking rush hour traffic and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Power,” before rallying in front of City Hall. 

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

This weekend, demonstrators in Baltimore City joined thousands who took to the streets in cities large and small across the nation protesting the killing of George Floyd. In Baltimore, many of those who want justice for Floyd – a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes – expressed open wounds left by the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police five years ago. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan reports. 

Wikimedia Commons

Leaders in the Maryland House of Delegates are forming a workgroup that aims to improve trust and accountability in police statewide. The announcement this weekend came a few hours before hundreds in Baltimore joined nationwide protests of abuses by police.

“Policing in America is broken,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones in a statement announcing the new workgroup. “As the mother of two sons, accountability in policing is not just philosophical, it is personal.”

John Lee

The Baltimore County Council passed Friday its  budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1,  but not before an acrimonious debate over whether to cut property taxes.  

Council members said they had to make historic cuts totaling nearly $59 million to the budget to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katie Kirby/Revolution Event Design & Production via AP

Gov. Larry Hogan said he was concerned after seeing photos of crowds packing the Ocean City boardwalk over Memorial Day Weekend. But on Friday morning, he told NBC’s Today Show that lifting restrictions on outdoor dining, which is allowed beginning Friday at 5 p.m., will improve social distancing.

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

The deadline to mail in ballots for Baltimore’s citywide primaries is next Tuesday. This week, WYPR is airing audio profiles of the major Democratic mayoral candidates. Today, WYPR's Mary Rose Madden caught up with Mary Miller at a food distribution site in East Baltimore.

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John Lee

The Baltimore County Council is poised to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year Friday with historic levels of cuts.

County employees likely will see raises deferred and the school system will take a hit as well. At the same time, the Republican minority on the council is considering proposing a tax cut at Friday’s meeting.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Baltimore restaurants with outdoor dining permits can begin serving customers at 5 p.m. this Friday, but outside only, Mayor Jack Young announced Thursday. 

 

Hours later, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that outdoor dining will be allowed beginning at 5 p.m. Friday in the county as well. And he said restrictions on retail stores, houses of worship, day camps and pools in the county will be eased as well.

The announcements come one day after Gov. Larry Hogan lifted several pandemic-related restrictions throughout Maryland, including on outdoor dining.

In addition, officials in Anne Arundel and Howard counties announced they, too, would allow outdoor dining and ease restrictions on retail establishments as well.

Baltimore Mayor Young said in a statement he wanted to "thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.” 

Baltimore County Public Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic is making clear the divide between the rich and the poor students in Baltimore County schools, according to members of the school board.

Closing that divide may be made more difficult because the board itself is divided and distracted.

Joel McCord

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that Maryland could move into the final stages of Phase 1of his Covid-19 recovery plan.

Under his new orders, restaurants and social organizations such as American Legions, VFWs and Elks Clubs would be able to open for outdoor dining as of 5 p,m, Friday, provided they follow strict health and safety guidelines.

The same goes for outdoor swimming pools, youth sports activities and day camps.

The Governor's Office


As Maryland officials raced to meet the state’s urgent need for medical supplies over the last two months, two deals gained national attention:  The governor’s procurement of 500,000 COVID-19 test kits from South Korea and a $12.5-million contract for ventilators and masks from a company started by two Republican fundraisers.

On Wednesday, state lawmakers grilled an official in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration over whether the tests from South Korea are actually being used. They questioned whether officials have been too quick to approve these deals.

Joe Giordano


  As Emilia Vizachero poses for a portrait on the steps of her soon-to-be alma mater, her photographer makes a request that would’ve seemed alien just a few months ago: can he get a shot of her removing her face mask?

 

Vizachero, donned in a striped shirt and a royal blue skirt with a matching face mask, obliges. 

 

The photographer, Joe Giordano, takes a second to adjust his camera – his own mask has fogged up his camera’s viewfinder. 

Wikimedia Commons

Retailers, hair salons and barbers in Howard County can open at 50% capacity starting Friday morning, County Executive Calvin Ball announced Tuesday. It marks a slight easing of the county’s current restrictions, which allow stores to offer curbside pickup and delivery and allow hair salons and barbershops to open by appointment in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The new rules also permit religious institutions to hold outdoor services with up to 250 people, so long as they can sit or stand six feet apart from one other. The rules currently in place prohibit any services, indoor or outdoor, larger than 10 people.

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. WYPR’s Emily Sullivan caught up with former mayor Sheila Dixon during a workout. 

Alissa Eckert, Dan Higgins/CDC

Most of us are seeing a gradual reopening of our lives as COVID-19 restrictions are being eased. But for people living in nursing homes and assisted living, little has changed.

There are things we can do to help those who remain isolated with no end in sight.

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.”

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski relaxed Thursday COVID-19 related restrictions on churches and businesses in the county.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore County Council debated what it means to be under a state of emergency and whether it should be extended.

At a morning news conference, Olszewski said retail stores can reopen starting at 9 am Friday. But no more than 10 people, including staff, can be inside the store at a time.

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.   

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

Stores in Baltimore City are closed. In Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, retail is open for curbside pickup and delivery. In Harford and Carroll counties, customers can actually go inside stores.

When Gov. Larry Hogan replaced his stay-at-home order with a “Safer at Home” advisory and lifted some other statewide restrictions last week, he said what’s considered safe will necessarily vary county by county. He pointed to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which together account for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases. He left it up to local officials to decide how to move forward into the first phase of his recovery plan. 

 

The result is a patchwork of rules that change as you cross county lines. Some county health officers told state lawmakers on Wednesday that the variation forces them into a defensive position as they explain their choices to confused residents. 

Kyle Pompey / @niceshotkyle

Growing up in Baltimore, Rob Jackson was one of those kids who was always shooting hoops on one of hundreds of basketball courts in the city.

But when he entered the Army in 2000, running was an essential part of the training. He says jogging a dozen or so miles every week changed his life, helping to relieve stress and anxiety.

Back in Baltimore, he started a running group in the city called RIOT, Running Is Our Therapy.  

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.”

Friends School

Many public schools in Baltimore County are already overcrowded and county officials believe that could get worse because of a coming stream of students from private schools.

They are worried that some parents might get priced out of private schools in the COVID-19 economy.

Courtesy of the candidates' campaigns

A new poll from WYPR, the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore shows former mayor Sheila Dixon, Mary Miller and City Council President Brandon Scott in a statistical three-way tie in the Baltimore City mayoral Democratic primary race, with 22% of voters still undecided just two weeks shy of the election. 

“A couple of candidates could transcend, depending on how things go,” said Steve Raabe, the owner of OpinionWorks, which conducted the poll. “This is a race that really any one of three or four people could still win.”

Eli Pousson / Flickr

Black Baltimore residents are evicted nearly three times more often than white residents,  according to a new report by researchers at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Washington.

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.  

 

Mary Rose Madden / WYPR

Doctors from throughout Maryland gathered outside  Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Baltimore field office Sunday as part of a weeklong national vigil to demand ICE detainees be released because of fears of the coronavirus.

They argue that the cramped conditions in the jails are especially dangerous during this pandemic.

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