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Maryland’s Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City began counting mail ballots yesterday, making them the early leaders nationwide in the race to handle a surge of early votes for the 2020 general election. WBAL has more:
Some of the first ballots in the country to be counted in the 2020 presidential general election were processed Monday in Anne Arundel County when a bipartisan team of two sent the first batch of 50 mail-in ballots through a high-speed scanning machine called a tabulator.
“(This is an) exciting landmark, exciting milestone,” Anne Arundel County Board of Elections Deputy Director David Garreis said.
Anne Arundel County election officials said that at the start of Monday’s ballot canvass, there were 14,664 mail-in ballots waiting to be tabulated, about 10,000 of which were collected from ballot drop boxes.
“I wanted to get my vote out early and I wanted to participate in voting by mail because of COVID,” said a voter named Sheila.
Baltimore City also started counting ballots Monday. Both jurisdictions are livestreaming the process.
“Every presidential election is a little crazy in its own way because it’s the one with the most attention, but this one’s definitely been one for the record books in terms of just all the different twists and turns it has taken,” Garreis said.
Local officials can thank a change in policy that allows them to get a head start rather than wait for Election Day:
Blame the coronavirus pandemic that upended the election year calendar and process.
With hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents voting by mail in 2020, local jurisdictions are allowed to start scanning ballots this far ahead of the November election. It is the earliest start in the nation, according to the national nonprofit keeping track.
Elections officials on the ground weren’t aware of their first.
“That’s incredible. That’s a really cool thing. I’m glad we could be part of history,” Garreis said.
They are just focused on the 15,000 ballots waiting to be tallied — and the tens of thousands more soon to arrive.
“Now that we’re counting the ballots, we hope that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Garreis said.
Other counties will begin the process soon – and will be providing transparency about the process via webcam:
Jurisdictions all plan to livestream the counting process online. Montgomery County will start Tuesday, Howard and Baltimore counties will begin next week, followed by Harford and Cecil counties several days later.
With Election Day 28 days away, this story is a useful reminder that the voting process – including counting – is getting underway nationwide. Best of luck to Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other Free State communities as the count continues … stay tuned!