More than 161,000 Marylanders cast their ballots during the first day of early voting, according to the State Board of Elections, setting what is believed to be a single-day record for early voting in the state.
The total surpassed the previous unofficial single-day early voting record of 143,494 set on the final day of early voting in the 2016 general election.
“We’re extremely pleased that Marylanders are turning out in record numbers to exercise their right to vote,” said Maryland State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone. “Today’s record-setting total is in addition to the more than 1.6 million voters who requested a mail-in ballot and the roughly 830,000 who have already submitted them. We are equally pleased that nearly 1,000 people took advantage of same-day registration today in order to cast their ballots.”
By comparison, the 2016 election saw 123,623 voters on the first day of early voting, according to data from the State Board of Elections.
After Day 1 of Early Voting, More Than 1.1 Million Marylanders Have Cast Ballots
With Monday’s 161,000-plus votes combined with the 947,941 mail-in ballots returned so far, more than 1.1 million Marylanders already have voted in the presidential general election.
Voters waited for hours in lines at early voting centers across the state, with many lining up well before the state’s 81 early voting centers opened at 7 a.m. Monday morning. Some told Maryland Matters that worries over Postal Service delays and national rhetoric about mail-in ballots led them to vote in person.
The 2016 General Election saw a total turnout of just over 2.8 million voters. That figure includes Election Day, early voting, mail-in and provisional ballots. Advocates expect longer lines and even more voters at early voting centers going forward.
“We should expect even longer lines as we get closer to Election Day,” Common Cause Maryland Executive Director Joanne Antoine said on Monday.
Early voting will continue until Nov. 2. Voters can head to any early voting center in their jurisdiction. Those centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and will remain open as regular in-person voting centers on Election Day.
During the eight days of early voting, eligible voters may cast their ballots at any authorized early voting center in their jurisdiction of residence. A complete list of early voting centers is available here. Voters may also search here for early voting centers, Election Day voting centers and ballot drop box locations in their area simply by including their zip code.
For voters who missed the advance voter registration deadline, same-day registration will be available at early voting and Election Day vote centers. To prove their place of residence, Marylanders registering in person during early voting or on Election Day will need to bring their Motor Vehicle Administration-issued driver’s license, identification card or change of address card, or a paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or other government document that includes the voter’s name and new address.
“We encourage Marylanders who would like to vote in person to continue to take advantage of early voting,” Lamone said. “While many Marylanders have, and continue to, cast their votes using mail-in ballots, voting early is one way to reduce lines and limit wait times at vote centers. The best time to vote in person is on a weekday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.”
Voters who have already requested a ballot should vote the ballot they receive in the mail. Voters simply complete the ballot, sign the oath on the postage-paid return envelope that accompanies the ballot, seal the envelope and submit it by mail or at an approved ballot drop box location.
Voters may not “trade in” their mail-in ballot during early voting or on Election Day, nor can they scan their mail-in ballot at an in-person vote center. If a voter has already requested or received a mail-in ballot and wants to vote early, the voter will have to cast a provisional ballot. This ballot will be held until election officials confirm the voter did not also return a mail-in ballot. This process ensures only one ballot per voter is counted.
Voters may drop off a mail-in ballot at an early voting center, but the ballot must be properly sealed in the return envelope that accompanied the mail-in ballot. Voters must sign the oath on the return envelope in order for the ballot to be counted.
By Bennett Leckrone