Baltimore Sun

Mosby faces uphill battle in quest for third term

Bates takes significan­t lead into mail-in ballot count

- By Alex Mann, Lee O. Sanderlin and Emily Opilo

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby faces an uphill battle to overcome a nine-point deficit to defense attorney Ivan Bates in the Democratic primary for the city’s top prosecutor.

Mosby, who is vying for a third term in office, needs a substantia­l amount of the mail-in ballots to go her way and for Bates and former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah to split the remaining votes.

With 95% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday, Bates’ 41% of the vote topped Mosby’s 32%. Vignarajah had garnered 27% of the vote.

“It looks as if Ivan Bates has earned enough votes through early voting and election day voting — it’s not guaranteed — but he’s carved himself a path to victory,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. “For him to put up the numbers he had with early voting and election day voting, he’s put himself in a good position to win.”

More than 47,000 ballots have been counted so far, including 13,100 early votes.

Baltimore County’s canvass will be livestream­ed on the election board’s website. While that was required of all local boards in 2020, it’s not this year. However, the public must be given the option of watching the count in person.

Pivotal races in Baltimore County remain undecided, including the contest for state’s attorney.

Challenger Robbie Leonard holds a narrow 860-vote lead over incumbent Scott Shellenber­ger based on in-person returns.

Across the state almost 500,000 mail-in ballots were requested by voters, while only 213,019 had been returned as of Monday. The numbers stand to increase as totals collected from drop boxes on primary day and sent via the mail are tabulated.

Incomplete turnout figures show about 17% of the state’s 3.7 million eligible voters participat­ed in the primary in person. The addition of mail-in ballots already cast will bring total turnout to roughly 23%, a figure comparable to the 25% turnout Maryland saw in the last gubernator­ial primary in 2018.

Turnout in 2014 was around 22%.

“We are not looking at an abysmally low turnout,” said Nikki Charlson, deputy director of the Maryland State Board of Elections. “It’s a question of whether we’re a little higher than normal or at normal.”

Baltimore City election director Armstead Jones said he has a staff of 20 to 25 ready to begin counting mail-in ballots Thursday. That day, Jones said he plans to continue counting until 6 p.m.

The city’s election board will decide whether staff will work over the weekend, but Jones said he will recommend working Saturday but not Sunday.

“Everybody is tired,” he said. “You’ve got to have a good, clear mind to do things.”

Jones was not willing to estimate how long it will take to count the 21,813 mail-in ballots already received from city voters.

Several citywide races hang in the balance, most notably the highly watched battle for Baltimore state’s attorney.

With early votes and 95% of primary-day precincts reported, challenger Ivan Bates leads in the race with 41% of the vote. Two-term incumbent Marilyn Mosby trails with 32%, while challenger Thiru Vignarajah has 27% of the vote thus far.

Results will be posted to the state board of election’s website as they are uploaded by local boards, Charlson said. When they become live will depend on what time local boards finish counting each day and send results to the state, she said.

A count of the number of mail-in ballots received by the state will continue to be updated overnight, Charlson said. Elections officials expect the return rate to be lower this year during the gubernator­ial primary.

Often, unaffiliat­ed voters request ballots but don’t return them when they find they cannot vote for particular races due to Maryland’s closed primary, Charlson said.

Over 40,000 mail-in ballots were sent to unaffiliat­ed voters this year, but just 5,835 have been returned so far.

Anne Arundel County officials aim to canvass 13,000 mail-in ballots Thursday, said Richard Siejack, deputy director of the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections. The county has received about 18,000 so far.

Siejack couldn’t say how long the count would take, but all options are on the table, including counting into the weekend if needed, he said. Preliminar­y results will be announced later Thursday, he said. Additional canvass dates for mail-in and provisiona­l ballots are scheduled for Wednesday and July 29.

The Republican nominee for Anne Arundel County executive remains undecided absent mail-in totals. Edgewater County Council member Jessica Haire held an early 864-vote lead over former Annapolis Del. Herb McMillan.

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