Presidential primary election ballots destined for the city of Baltimore could arrive as late as next weekend, State Board of Elections officials announced this weekend.
The ballots are among the last to be processed and delivered for the June 2 primary election, which is being conducted largely by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Board is deeply committed to ensuring that ballots are delivered promptly and securely to all eligible voters in the City of Baltimore and across Maryland,” Maryland Administrator of Elections Linda H. Lamone said in a press statement on Sunday. “We are grateful to the many Baltimore residents who have contacted us with questions about the vote by mail process and thank them for their patience. I also want to thank the U.S. Postal Service for working closely with us to ensure every eligible voter can vote by mail in this election.”
As recently as Friday, state elections officials said voters in the city would begin receiving ballots over the weekend. In a Sunday news release, the State Board of Elections said all ballots for eligible active voters in the city were expected to be delivered by May 23.
The announcement came after a weekend of social media chatter in which voters and elected officials throughout the city questioned why they hadn’t received ballots.
The news release indicated that some city voters received ballots this weekend, but did not specify a figure. Deputy Elections Administrator Nikki Charlson said late Sunday that most voters will receive their ballots next week. She did not elaborate with more details or answer questions beyond the emailed statement.
In a phone interview on Friday, Charlson said the ballots for Montgomery County and Baltimore City were the last two large batches of ballots that were in processing for the state.
State Board of Elections officials initially decided to include June 2 ballots destined for homes in the 7th congressional district among the last to be mailed to create some separation between the ballots in that election and those in the just-concluded 7th District special election.
Elections officials have said delivery of the ballots from mail houses in Ohio, Minnesota and Florida were staggered to accommodate the capacity limits of the senders.
Voters in some parts of the state received their ballots early this month. Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith said on a conference call last Tuesday that he’d already received his ballot in Anne Arundel County and returned it a week earlier. Montgomery County officials ― Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) and Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) ― had not received theirs at that point.
Ballots started arriving in Montgomery County later in the week and over the weekend.
In addition to the presidential primary, the June 2 election will likely decide the eventual winners of critical positions in the city of Baltimore, including mayor, city council and comptroller.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D), a contender in the mayoral election, sent a news release Sunday afternoon demanding a state board hearing this week to address the lateness of ballots in the city.
The delay is of particular concern because an inordinate number of ballots sent to voters in the city for the 7th District special election were returned as undeliverable. More than 20,300 ballots ― almost 9% of the vote-by-mail ballots ― sent to city residents were returned by the post office as undeliverable.
The deadline to register or change parties for the June 2 election is May 27.
On June 2, there will be 42 vote centers open throughout the state ― between one and four in each county. There are also 66 ballot drop-off boxes throughout the state, where voters can return ballots through June 2 at 8 p.m.
Ballots sent by mail must be postmarked ― not simply placed in a mailbox ― on June 2 or earlier and arrive to local elections offices by June 12.