Voter Turnout Nears 75 Percent in St. Mary's



HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Nov. 4, 2020)—Like all other Americans, St. Mary's County residents woke up Nov. 4 with no clear winner in the presidential race between President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden since key battleground states were still too close to call and ballots were still be counted.

Maryland's 10 electoral college votes went to Biden, however, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer retained his 5th District Congressional seat, though his GOP challenger, Calvert resident Chris Palombi clearly won St. Mary's with 26,342 votes to Hoyer's 17,493.

St. Mary's remained solidly red, however, with Trump winning 25,885 votes compared to Biden's 17,417.

Wendy Adkins, the local director of the Board of Elections, said voter turnout was strong at about 60 percent between early voting, Election Day, and mail-in ballots.

The most current number of county residents who voted is 44,851, Adkins said, but she expected that number to increase as more absentee ballots are mailed in and canvassed.

As of Nov. 3 the elections board had received 9,450 absentee ballots with more on the way, Adkins said.

There are 73,818 registered voters in St. Mary's County and with all the ballots combined voter turnout came to 73.5 percent.

Though lines were long at the seven polling places around the county, the process had no major problems, said Adkins.

"Everything went well, everything went smoothly," Adkins told The County Times. "We'll be done [canvassing ballots] by next Friday, which is certification day."

"I'm honored to once again receive the support of Marylanders in the Fifth District," Hoyer said in a prepared statement. "As we look toward the 117th Congress, I'll continue to champion issues that matter greatly to my constituents, including taking action to address climate change, supporting legislation to reform our broken criminal justice system and address racial inequality in our nation, advocating for legislation to rebuild our infrastructure systems, and protecting our federal civilian workforce."

In the local Board of Education race, atlarge incumbent Cathy Allen easily won reelection against challenger DeForest Rathbone with 30,378 votes to his 6,274.

In the District 2 school board race incumbent Jim Davis held the lead with 20,024 votes against challenger Heather Earhart's 16,296 votes.

In District 4, school board member Mary Washington ran unopposed, earning 33,719 votes.

Circuit Court Judge Joseph Stanalonis also ran unopposed and won 33,864 votes.

St. Mary's voters also approved an amendment to the state's constitution that would give more spending power to the state legislature, effectively diluting some of the governor's considerable power over the budget.

There were 25,877 St. Mary's residents who approved of the measure, with 14,749 opposing it, this despite the county being a bulwark of support for Gov. Larry Hogan, who launched a campaign to oppose Question 1.

Question 1 passed statewide.

Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland, said the emphasis on the presidential election took attention away from issues like Question 1.

"People were probably not paying as much attention to the ballot questions," Eberly said. "The way it was worded people probably assumed it was something the General Assembly could do anyway."

Question 2, which allowed for the expansion of gambling into sports and event betting, easily passed in the state and in St. Mary's with 27,738 residents approving of it, while 14,392 voted against.

Eberly said it would likely be days until the nation would know who the next president would be, though Biden would win the popular vote.

Still there were electoral college paths to victory for both candidates; Biden would find a hostile Senate held by Republicans, he said, while Trump would still have to contend with a Democratic House of Representatives.

"Divided government continues and with that comes the gridlock," Eberly said. "This election will settle who the president is, but it won't settle anything else."

For more local stories from the County Times newspapers, visit countytimes.somd.com or find a copy on local news stands.

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