A third of primary votes have been cast by first-time or newly-engaged voters
Will unexpectedly high turnout in Baltimore impact today’s primary results?
Above: Socially-distanced voters wait at the University of Maryland in-person voting location on West Baltimore Street. (Louis Krauss)
Of the 102,242 mail-in votes recorded as of Sunday night, 35,863 were from residents who hadn’t voted in any of the last three primaries, according to Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore).
“This is a remarkable statistic,” Ferguson wrote on Twitter. “Will impact the outcomes of this race. Targeting ‘likely voters’ missed 1/3rd of votes.”
Ferguson told The Brew today that the data showed the city’s rate of new voters was around the same level as the state’s.
The majority of newly-engaged voters hadn’t participated in the last three general elections. The data comes from a file updated regularly by the Maryland Democratic Party.
Ferguson said he suspected returning citizens make up a large number of the new votes, “which would be an enormously positive outcome.”
He said the stay-at-home order due to Covid-19 may have forced more residents to pay attention to their mail. “That is a huge enfranchisement,” he told The Brew. “It’s a major step.”
The data suggest that overall turnout may increase from the 2016 primary. Voters showing up today at the city’s six polling places also indicated a surge in voter participation, which is typically low in a city primary.
Turnout today at polling places suggests an increase in voter participation this year.
In 2016, about 133,000 voters cast ballots. Pugh narrowly won the primary, with 2,408 more votes than former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who took second place and is a front runner in this year’s primary.
While elections officials have warned results of the mostly mail-in primary may not be available for a few days, City Councilman Ryan Dorsey said some results could come sooner – even if turnout is much greater than it was in the 2016 primary.
“Even if we have 155,000 ballots cast, we’ll have [more than two-thirds] counted before the end of [to]day,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter. “For many races that’ll be enough to call it the second polls close.”
The results of many City Council races may be known tonight, but it’s possible that the results of the citywide races – mayor, City Council president and comptroller – may take a few days.
Ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. today, June 2, to be considered.
For those wishing to vote in person, here are the polling locations, which will close today at 8 p.m.:
• Edmondson High School, 501 North Athol Avenue.
• University of Maryland at Baltimore Community Engagement Center, 870 West Baltimore Street.
• Mount Pleasant Church & Ministries, 6000 Radecke Avenue.
• Dr. Carter G. Woodson School, 2501 Seabury Road.
• Northwood Elementary School, 5201 Loch Raven Boulevard.
• Northwestern High School, 6900 Park Heights Avenue.