The Center Square MD, Maryland elections official: Vote by mail ‘is here to stay’
Pandemic-era protocols could have set a new trend in how Marylanders prefer to cast their ballots, based on a recent report from state elections officials.
Mail-in voting, a preferred method at the height of COVID-19 in 2020, remained strong in Maryland’s recent primary election, based on preliminary information.
Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator with the Maryland State Board of Elections, said about one-third of voters who cast ballots in the July primary did so by mail.
“It does appear that the gross in mail-in voting looks something like 35% of our voters this election voted by mail, which is slightly lower than 2020,” Charlson said when asked about voting data at a Board of Public Works meeting last week.
Since social distancing and other protocols were heightened in the busy 2020 election year, voting by mail became a popular option since it lacked face-to-face contact.
Looking back at 2020, Charlson said, “We weren’t sure if that started a new trend or not. It does look like voting by mail is here to stay.”
Preliminary figures from last month’s primary, however, indicated there was an appetite for some Marylanders to go back to the tried-and-true method of in-person voting on Election Day.
“Early voting, as a percentage, did drop a little bit,” Charlson said. “Based on our unofficial turnout numbers so far, about 17% of our voters voted during early voting. The balance did so on Election Day. We’ll have to see if that trend holds for upcoming elections.”
Prior to 2020, Charlson said mail-in voting was consistently under 10% of the total ballots cast in an election.
There are lots of good arguments for why voting should be carried out in person on a single day if at all reasonably possible, but the strongest is the fact that mail in voting makes it much more difficult to police several possible types of voting fraud. Oh well, nobody expects Republicans to win in MD anyway.