By: Brett Peveto

With the likelihood of a long wait for election results nationwide, Maryland’s decision to pre-process mail-in ballots may pay dividends in the coming days.

As of last Sunday, the state reported mail-in ballot requests numbered more than 641,000.

Maryland’s voting system produces a voter-verifiable paper record Credit: Lisa F. Young / Adobe Stock

While some in the nation are calling for the hand counting of ballots, Maryland’s electronic scanners machine-count ballots at both the precinct and county levels.

Hannah Fried, executive director of All Voting is Local Action and a National Task Force on Election Crise’s member, said hand counting ballots are prone to human error.

“It’s really slow, and it’s error-prone, right?” Fried asserted. “People make mistakes when they’re counting a lot of ballots. There are better systems. Machine counting of ballots, as any election expert will tell you, is the time-tested, battle-tested way to count ballots. “

Maryland’s pre-processed mail-in ballot results will not be released until the polls close on Election Day.

The rise in mail-in balloting in the nation has changed how quickly votes are counted, with different states having different rules around when mail-in or absentee ballot processing can begin. Fried noted we should get used to the idea close elections may delay results.

“A single county, even if it’s small if the margins are tight enough, you may see election results get delayed significantly,” Fried explained. “I want to say it’s very important to normalize that election results can take more than just election-night reporting.”

Following the general election, each local election board in Maryland will conduct a manual post-election tabulation audit.

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