EARLY VOTING, MAIL IN TURNOUT HUGE SO FAR: Early voters are turning out in unprecedented numbers this election, and nationally two-thirds o them, 58 million, are mail-in ballots, Luciana Perez Uribe, Michelle Siegel, and Shruti Kuma write for the Capital News Service in MarylandReporter.com. In Maryland, there are 284 ballot drop off boxes to accept ballots without having to go through the mail.
- With less than a week to go before Election Day, Maryland’s State Board of Elections has recommended that voters who still need to return their mail-in ballots use those drop boxes because of mounting reports of mail delivery delays, Madeleine O’Neill reports for the USA Today Network.
- Ballots mailed in Maryland must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 13 to be counted, Erin Cox, Michael Brice-Saddler and Antonia Olivo write in the Post, so elections judges are urging the drop boxes instead.
- In Montgomery County, officials have been inundated with thousands of calls about the status of mail-in ballots, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
- As of Thursday evening, 589,730 Marylanders had already voted in person, 286,874 Democrats and 204,712 Republicans, 20% of the registered Republicans. There are four more days left to vote early, and the heaviest turnout is typically on the last day, Monday by 8 p.m. For mail-in votes, 1,187,193 people have returned their ballots, 826,601Democrats, 173,165 Republicans and 187,427 others. Yesterday’s roundup incorrectly reported that the state did not report the figures by party. MarylandReporter.com
MD, VA, NC JOIN FORCES ON WIND ENERGY: The governors of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday promising to work together to rapidly develop offshore wind projects off the coast of their three states, Matthew Prensky reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. The governor’s memo calls for creation of a joint partnership with leadership from all three states to coordinate efforts and reduce administrative burdens.
- But Hogan’s own record and rhetoric on two long-proposed offshore wind projects off the coast of Ocean City have been decidedly mixed, Josh Kurtz writes for Maryland Matters. This includes grumblings by environmental groups that he and his administration could be doing more to promote offshore wind and complaints that projects have moved slowly after political and business leaders from Ocean City objected.
SHEDDING LIGHT ON DEPARTURE OF FRANCHOT’S TOP AIDE: Len Foxwell was a powerful Annapolis power broker before being put on administrative leave by Comptroller Peter Franchot, Bryan Sears writes in a long analysis of Foxwell’s resignation that details an affair with Natasha Guynes. “The story of Foxwell’s demise is rooted in the collision of his personal and political personas, the culmination of a relationship that had spiraled out of control and made the once-indispensable man a political liability,” Sears writes.
- Franchot announced he is promoting Manny Welsh to chief of staff, Tyler Waldman reports for WBAL NewsRadio. Welsh has been serving as acting chief of staff since Oct. 5.
UMMS ANNOUNCES REFORMS: The University of Maryland Medical System has implemented dozens of recommendations from auditors after the Healthy Holly scandal involving former Baltimore city Mayor Catherine Pugh and former UMMS board member, Ben Leopard reports for the Sun. The audit came after the Sun reported a third of the 30-member board had contract with the system.
COVID OUTBREAK AT MVA: The number of COVID-19 cases among employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration continues to grow, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR. But even though a dozen workers were out Thursday, union officials say the state agency isn’t doing enough to stop the spread.
- There have been at least 21 cases reported to the union within the last 2 weeks, including 10 at the MVA facility in Glen Burnie and 5 in Baltimore City, and one state employee from the Largo facility died. The union is calling for the governor to shut down and disinfect MVA facilities, Abby Isaacs reports for WMAR.
STATE STILL CALLING FOR RETURN TO SCHOOLS: At the October meeting of the state Board of Education, Superintendent Karen Salmon continued to encourage local school systems to safely return students to schools for in-person instruction, the staff of the Garrett County Republican reports.
EDITORIAL: JUDGES SHOULD BE APPOINTED: In its endorsement of sitting Howard County Circuit Court Judge John Kuchno, the Washington Post editorial board argues that the race is a prime example of why well qualified and carefully vetted judges like Kuchno should not face political challenges. Instead, they argued, the General Assembly should take action so who serves on the important court won’t be determined “on a whim.”
CARROLL COUNTY SEEING MORE CASES: “With a total of 50 new cases of COVID-19 announced in a two-day span, Carroll County has already seen more cases this week than any since the beginning of September and could be headed for its highest number of weekly transmissions yet,” Bob Blubaugh reports for the Carroll County Times.
FEDERAL LEADERS EXPRESS CONCERN ON PURPLE LINE: Maryland two U.S. senators and seven of its eight representatives said they have “deep concern” about the future of the Purple Line after the consortium constructing the light-rail line prepares to leave the job, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
PRINCE GEORGE’S SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PARTNERSHIP MOVING FORWARD: As Prince George’s County moves ahead with a $1.2 billion public-private partnership to construct new schools, residents shared suggestions like requiring county residents to be hired, penalties for missing completion dates and preference to contractors who hire people who were formerly incarcerated, William Ford reports for the Washington Informer.
CONVINCING VOTERS ON SPORTS BETTING QUESTION: Pro-gambling groups have spent another $1.6 million trying to convince Marylanders to approve sports betting in a referendum question, on top of $2 million they previously spent, Pamela Wood writes for the Sun.
OUTSIZE ROLE OF FEDERAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Three Maryland couples – including Rep. David Trone and his wife, June – “contributed more to federal campaigns this cycle than all the other 1.7 million reported contributions under $15 in the state combined,” Gracie Todd reports for the Capital News Service in MarylandReporter.com.
SEX OFFENDER CASE COULD GO TO SUPREME COURT: 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 a “punishment” a judge must order, and not a mere listing of offenders by a state agency, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record. In the case, a sex trafficker pled guilty to being a sex offender but the plea did not mention his victim was a minor, and the Maryland Sex Offender Registry determined he must register.
MOSBY FINED FOR REPORTING PROBLEMS: Del. Nick Mosby (D) has been hit with more than $500 in fines for reporting penalties for missing deadlines and reporting spending late in campaign finance reports in his bid for Baltimore City Council President, Tim Prudente reports for the Sun.
- The Nick Mosby campaign began amending its state finance filings within minutes of a FOX45 News report about a nearly $100,000 inconsistency in the campaign’s bank account balance, Julian Baron reports for WBFF.
JUDGE CANDIDATE RESPONDS TO OPPONENTS: Marilyn Pierre, a candidate for Circuit Court judge in Montgomery County, is responding to her opponents seeking a temporary restraining order against her campaign worker, Adam Pagnucco writes for blog Seventh State. “They could have reached out to my campaign to let us know a volunteer misspoke. Instead, they are using litigation to harass & intimidate while wasting taxpayer money,” she writes in a statement.
LOYOLA BRIDGING ACTIVISM, ACADEMICS IN NEW INSTITUTE: A new institute at Loyola University will provide a place for conversations about race and social justice, and will serve as a bridge between activism in Baltimore and academic work at Loyola, Johanna Alonso reports for The Daily Record.
PANDEMIC SLOWS RECORDS RESPONSES: During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is taking longer for people to get information through public records requests, and disputes over records are taking longer to resolve — all of which can undermine the purpose of public information laws, Ben Leopard reports for the Sun.
EASTERN SHORE GETS FEDERAL GRANT: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris has announced a federal grant for Eastern Shore small businesses and farmers to improve food safety, The Easton Star-Democrat reports.