In the race for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, Incumbent Rep. Steny Hoyer has been reelected, although he came in behind his Republican challenger in his home county, St. Mary’s, as well as in Calvert County.
As of Wednesday, Hoyer (D-Md. 5th) won 68% of votes across his district, which includes Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties as well as portions of southern Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, allowing him to fend off his Republican challenger Chris Palombi and once again keep his seat.
Palombi won more votes in St. Mary’s, however, with about 58% of total votes as of Wednesday. In Calvert County, Palombi also topped Hoyer winning about 57% of votes, but the incumbent easily won over Charles County voters, garnering about 66% of their total votes, as well as a majority of district voters in Prince George’s County (87%). Hoyer came up short among Anne Arundel County votes, collecting just 47% as of Wednesday.
The last time Hoyer won heavily Republican St. Mary’s and Calvert counties was in 2012 against then-opponent Tony O’Donnell.
The congressman has represented the district since 1981, making this his 21st term, and touts his work on protecting access to affordable health care, expanding access to economic opportunity and ensuring local military bases and other federal facilities have resources they need. The 81-year-old’s political career in Maryland began more than half a century ago, when at 27 he won a seat in the Maryland Senate in 1966.
Palombi said last week he plans on running again in the future, using “lessons learned” through this election process to help him “seek ways to improve.”
Todd Eberly, professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a political commentator, told Southern Maryland News last week he was not surprised with the results of the race, as Hoyer has had consistent results over the past several years.
Voter turnout reaches record numbers in the state
A record number of citizens turned out to cast ballots in this year’s general election, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and revised election infrastructure.
As of counts from last week, an estimated 159 million people, accounting for 66.5% of the eligible voting population, cast ballots in this election, according to the University of Florida’s United States Elections Project. That exceeds the turnout percentages for the past 120 years, going back to the 1900, when Republican President William McKinley won reelection with 73% turnout.
In Maryland alone, an estimated 3.1 million ballots were cast, with participation among eligible active voters in the state at 72.2%.
In the 2016 race between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-candidate Donald Trump, the turnout rate was 60.2%. As for President Barack Obama’s term, in 2008, when he ran against Sen. John McCain, turnout was at 62.2%. In 2012, against Sen. Mitt Romney, turnout was closer to 59%.
Some of this year’s high turnout may be largely attributed to the expansion of access to mail-in ballots and early voting, with many states changing their policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100 million ballots were cast during the early voting period in Maryland, a large increase from prior years.
Regarding mail-in ballots, state elections board staff claimed during a briefing last week it was too early to say how long it would take them to count them all since they are not yet sure how many ballots there will be to count.
Kristen Scott, executive administrative assistant for the Calvert County Board of Elections, told Southern Maryland News on Tuesday the county has about 21,093 mail-in ballots that have been returned as of Monday, with 267 left to count, not including provisional ballots.
While mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and delivered by 10 a.m. on Nov. 13 will be counted, Scott mentioned the ballot count should be completed Friday and certified on Monday, Nov. 16. With about 500 provisional ballots to count, that process should be complete by Thursday, she said earlier this week.
A total of 14,320 Calvert residents came out for early voting and 13,461 on Election Day, Scott said, adding they had a higher turnout for Election Day voting than expected. Long lines were documented in the county, which had to keep several voting centers opened past 8 p.m. due to the heavy voter turnout.
Including all early voting ballots, Election Day ballots and mail-in ballots, 76% of the county’s population of eligible active voters turned out for the 2016 election and the board expects about the same turn out this year once everything is said and done.
“Calvert County voters are excited to be part of the process,” she noted.
Prince George’s County voters took advantage of expanded mail-in ballots and early voting, totaling 239,038 and 128,476 residents respectively. With only 37,991 of Prince George’s residents voting on Election Day. Overall voter turnout so far is nearly 67% of eligible and active voters in the county.
In St. Mary’s County, early voters totaled 20,357, while Election Day voters totaled 12,772. Wendy Adkins, director of the St. Mary’s elections board, shared on Tuesday they currently have less than 100 mail-in ballots of almost 22,000 left to count but “that number will go up as we are still getting timely ballots in the mail.” There were a little over a thousand provisional ballots left to count, she said, but all canvassing will be complete on Friday, Nov. 13.
So far, voter turnout in St. Mary’s has reached about 74% of eligible active voters compared to 72% at the end of the 2016 election. Adkins mentioned the 2008 election still holds the record in the county at 77% participation.
Charles County voters took advantage of expanded mail-in ballots and early voting, totaling 40,519 and 35,695 residents respectively. With only 11,154 of Charles residents voting on Election Day, about seven times that number of residents cast their vote before Nov. 3. Overall voter turnout so far is nearly 74% of eligible and active voters in the county.