Thousands of mail-in ballots still need to be counted in Frederick County — a process that will likely continue into next week, and help determine the winners in the Board of Education race and confirm whether the county voted for President Donald Trump or former vice president Joe Biden.
According to initial returns, more than 42,000 mail-in ballots had been counted in the county. Election Director Stuart Harvey said there were 60,629 mail-in ballots already returned to the county, but not all had been counted.
That number could jump to as high as 68,569 ballots in the coming days — the total number of mail-in ballot applications his office received this election cycle, Harvey said, as long as they were postmarked or delivered by 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Application numbers favored Democrats, with 37,498 sent to residents of that party, 16,258 for Republicans and the remaining 14,813 for unaffiliated voters and other parties, Harvey said.
As of Wednesday, election returns had Biden leading Trump by just over 5,500 votes countywide — far fewer than the number of ballots not yet counted.
The sixth and eighth Congressional districts were called Tuesday night, as Rep. David Trone (D) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) were re-elected, thanks to Democratic strongholds in Montgomery County. Trone was leading state Del. Neil Parrott (R) by more than 12,000 votes countywide as of Wednesday, but Raskin trailed Gregory Coll (R) by over 11,000 votes in the county.
Harvey said there’s one factor special to this year’s election—provisional ballots.
Those ballots won’t be canvassed and counted until Nov. 12 at 9 a.m. Typically, the county sees 2,000 to 3,000 provisional ballots in a general presidential election, but the Board of Elections could see double that this year, or even more, Harvey said.
“There were a lot of people taking advantage of same-day registration,” Harvey said of the increase in provisional ballots. “Because this is the first year we’ve had same-day registration at the polls. We’ve had same-day registration during early voting for a couple years, but this is the first year people could register and vote on Election Day.”
Election officials will wait until Nov. 13 to count any lingering mail-in ballots, per state law, Harvey said.
“We have to wait until the 13th, because anything that is postmarked Nov. 3 has until Nov. 13 to get in here,” Harvey said.
Turnout will likely exceed 80 percentHarvey said his initial prediction of an 85 percent voter turnout might be tough to reach, but it would likely still be high, given provisional ballots.
“I think we’ll break 80 percent, but I need to see the number of provisionals,” Harvey said. “Based on that provisional number, I think we’ll have a much better picture of what our voter turnout really is.”
The last time voter turnout reached 85 percent was in 1992, according to the state Board of Elections. Turnout topped 80 percent in 2004 and 2008. This year will likely be historic, Harvey said.
“I would be disappointed if we don’t break 80 percent, but I think we should ... go past 80 percent,” Harvey said.
He asked people to be patient as they count the remaining ballots.
All election results are unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections on Nov. 13. Harvey said he hopes all ballots will be canvassed and counted by then, unless there is an overwhelming number of provisional ballots.