RECORD EARLY VOTING: With five days to the election, 38% of registered Maryland voters – almost 1.6 million people – have already voted by mail or in person. The three days of early voting, which lasts through Monday, have seen record numbers every day, and 451,000 voters – 11% of eligible voters — have already cast their ballots, according to figures from the State Board of Elections. A higher percentage of Republicans are voting early in person, 15%, than are Democrats, 10%, contrary to past patterns of voting early. But Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland 2.2 to 1. From MarylandReporter.com
- Almost 1.7 million mail-in ballots have been requested, and more than 1.1 million – two thirds — have been returned so far. 70% by Democrats. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3, but they have until Nov. 13 to reach election boards and be counted.There are 4.1 million eligible registered voters in Maryland. But there are 5.3 million people over 18 in Maryland, according to U.S. Census estimates. MarylandReporter.com
STATE: DON’T MAIL BALLOTS; USE DROP BOXES: With reports of slow mail delivery across the country, Maryland election officials are urging voters to return their mail-in ballots at drop-boxes throughout the state instead of using the Postal Service, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters writes.
STATE GRAPPLES WITH VACCINE DISTRIBUTION PLAN: State leaders are grappling with how they would obtain and distribute a future COVID-19 vaccine. During a meeting with state lawmakers Wednesday, health officials and medical and pharmaceutical experts described a lack of national coordination and logistical challenges to distributing vaccines, while legislators questioned who will be able to get the vaccine first, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.
- Brian Witte of the AP reports that as “health officials face skepticism about rushed COVID-19 vaccines, Maryland will conduct outreach efforts to promote trust in a vaccine when a safe one becomes available, the state’s deputy health secretary said Wednesday.”
- Who should receive priority when a COVID-19 vaccine eventually becomes available? Maryland lawmakers quizzed state health officials on their plan to answer that question at a briefing Wednesday before the joint COVID-19 Response Legislative Workgroup, Madeleine O’Neill of the USA Today Network reports.
- “The challenges are great,” Dr. David Marcozzi, COVID-19 Incident Commander for the University of Maryland Medical System, warned. “Right now, Marylanders are not confident about the COVID-19 vaccine,” Marcozzi told lawmakers. “Since it has not been approved, we do have time [to change people’s minds] — but not much.” Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
COMING TO TERMS WITH STATE’s ROLE IN LYNCHINGS: State Attorney General Brian Frosh says that the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received a $300,000 federal grant to research and address unsolved lynchings across the state, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports.
- Kelly Powers of the Sailsbury Daily Times writes that three men were lynched in the city of Salisbury. At least 40 of over 4,000 Black Americans lynched between 1865 and 1950 in the Jim Crow era were killed in Maryland. The state’s last recorded lynching took place in Princess Anne, 87 years ago. One Salisbury task force is fighting to make sure its city remembers this history.
COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS RISE: The number of people hospitalized in Maryland due to complications from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, reached their highest total since early August on Wednesday as the state reported 684 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths, Ben Leonard of the Sun reports.
- Here’s the Sun’s overall update on Covid-19, including county numbers.
- The Cumberland Times-News reports that another Allegany County resident has died from complications of COVID-19. The Allegany County Health Department reported Wednesday the death of a county resident in their 60s, the 25th attributed to the novel coronavirus.
LATINO COMMUNITIES HIT HARD BY COVID: Latino communities in Maryland have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic because of shared housing situations, lack of access to government benefits and distrust in health officials, experts told a legislative panel last month, Ryan McFadden of the Capital News Service reports.
BALL TOUTS COOPERATION AMID COVID: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball touted unity and cooperation amid COVID in his State of County address. “If we work together we will rise together,” Ball said in the speech. Bryan Renbaum writes in MarylandReporter.com.
Advancing Energy Innovation as an Economic Development Strategy: State entities can play an essential role in moving advanced energy technologies from universities or R&D labs into the marketplace. These activities provide a new foundation for economic development. States such as Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York are strategically utilizing public investment to support technology commercialization, create ecosystems and clusters in clean energy, and create jobs in start-up companies. Learn about cutting edge energy technology development programs and strategies, and what it will take to position Maryland for success in this space during this FREE webinar on October 29th.
MO CO JUDGES GET RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST OPPONENT: Here’s something you don’t see every day in Montgomery County, writes Adam Pagnucco for the Seventh State blog: A group of candidates obtaining a temporary restraining order against an opponent. As strange as that might be, the details are even stranger.
DEL. COX TWEETS QANON HASHTAG: Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports that earlier this month, state Del. Dan Cox, R-Frederick and Carroll, used a hashtag — #WWG1WGA — that caught the eye of another Republican and one of his constituents. That hashtag has often been associated with the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and Hollywood elites are running a cabal of Satanic-worshipping, child-sex predators, and that President Donald Trump is fighting that cabal. #WWG1WGA stands for “Where We Go One, We Go All,” a rallying cry for the movement.
CAMPAIGN VANDALISM SEEMS WORSE THIS YEAR: This year’s super-heated presidential election is also generating destruction and theft of political signs. While campaign sign theft and related incidents are typical in elections, some residents feel it’s been worse this year, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
FALLSTON MAN SUES, CLAIMING DISENFRANCHISEMENT: A Fallston man is suing the Harford County Board of Elections and Sheriff Jeffery Gahler, arguing he was disenfranchised when he was arrested Monday after attempting to vote without a mask, Emily Opilo of the Sun reports.
- Daniel Swain, 52, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Harford County Circuit Court and is seeking a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the election board from requiring voters to wear a face mask to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox of the Post report.
FROSH SEEKS JUSTICES’ SUPPORT OF SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY: Maryland’s attorney general is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review and overturn the state high court’s decision that being placed on the sex offender registry is “punishment” that a judge must order and not a mere listing of offenders that an agency compiles to alert the public to potential sexual predators, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.
CITY BOARD OKS 9 NEW POSTS, SETTING OFF FIERY EXCHANGE: Baltimore’s spending board approved Wednesday the addition of nine staff positions to the council president’s office, despite objections from City Council President Brandon Scott, Hallie Miller of the Sun is reporting. Scott’s opposition set off a fiery exchange between him and outgoing Democratic Mayor “Jack” Young, who proposed the staff additions.
- With Scott heavily favored to be elected Baltimore’s next mayor in a matter of days, Young called Scott’s questioning of his decision to create the new jobs “unconscionable,” “irresponsible,” “disingenuous,” “dangerous” and “lip service,” Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports.
OPINION: MAYORAL DEBATE IGNORED IMPORTANT ISSUE: In a column for Maryland Reporter, Towson professor Richard Vatz opines that, reminiscent of debates in the 1990s between President George H.W. Bush, Gov. Bill Clinton and businessman Ross Perot, the WBAL Baltimore mayoral candidates forum was two against one – Brandon Scott — discussing some important matters: violence, COVID-19, employment opportunities, government corruption. But unlike those presidential debates, there was an elephant in the room: the undiscussed cause of causes: the destruction of Baltimore due to the end of the two-parent family.
BMA BACKS AWAY FROM ART SALE PLAN: In an eleventh-hour decision, the Baltimore Museum of Art’s board of trustees voted Wednesday to call off a controversial auction and private sale that would have sent three potentially irreplaceable artworks out of Maryland, Mary Carole McCauley reports in the Sun.