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Maryland's early voting turnout was lower than last midterm election but mail-in more popular

Baltimore County Early Voting Center
John Lee
Baltimore County Early Voting Center

Update: More than 381,900 voters cast ballots during early voting in Maryland, according to the unofficial turnout data from the Maryland State Board of Elections.

After eight days of early voting across Maryland, state officials estimated more than 350,000 voters cast ballots by the time the dozens of early voting centers closed at 8 p.m. on Thursday. There are 4.1 million eligible voters statewide. Roughly 293,000 voters cast ballots at the centers during the first seven days which began on Oct. 27 and Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of state State Board of Elections, said she expected another 60,000 statewide on the last day,

It’s normal that the last day of early voting is the busiest, Charlson said.

While there was a “steady early voting period,” turnout was lighter this year than the last midterm election, she said.

During the 2018 midterm election, more than 661,200 voters cast ballots at early voting centers after eight days out of 3.9 million eligible voters, according to the State Board of Election data.

“It’s less than what we saw in 2018,” she said. “But I think that we can't necessarily just look at early voting because in 2018, our number of ballots out to voters was about 150,000. And we've sent out 600,000 ballot packets for this election.”

There were more than 629,600 mail-in ballots sent to voters across Maryland as of Nov. 2 and 323,529 received by local boards of election, data shows. By comparison, there were roughly 152,500 mail-in ballots sent to voters during the 2018 midterm election.

While the trend to voting by mail is increasing, the timing of when people vote remains consistent, she said. About 40% of voters cast ballots before Election Day and the rest on Election Day. The question for those seeking to vote early is whether they want to vote in person at a center or by mail.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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