Write-in votes for president tripled in Maryland; many of those ballots won't count

In 2016, the number of write-in ballots for president cast by Maryland voters tripled from 2012.

With two deeply unpopular nominees on the presidential ballot this year, the number of voters in Maryland who wrote in their own candidate for president more than tripled, according to state election data.

About 32,000 Maryland voters wrote in a candidate for president in 2016. When Democratic President Barack Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, 10,309 Maryland voters wrote in a candidate.

Polls leading up to Election Day showed Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton with historically low approval ratings among likely voters.

Clinton won Maryland, and the popular vote nationwide; Trump won the Electoral College and the presidency.

Unless a voter wrote in the name of one of the 53 candidates who registered as a write-in candidate, the ballot counted for nothing. Writing in the name of a person who has not registered has the same effect as not voting at all.

Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said ballots cast for non-registered write-in candidates are compiled as votes for "other" candidates. The votes are not individually tallied.

Among the Marylanders whose vote will not be counted is Gov. Larry Hogan. The Republican did not support Trump or Clinton. On Election Day, he wrote in the name of his father, former Rep. Lawrence Hogan, the governor said.

"As he has said for many months, the governor is extremely disappointed in the candidates from both major parties," said Doug Mayer, Hogan's spokesman. He "decided to write in the name of the person who taught him what it meant to hold public office with integrity."

Hogan's father, now 88, served three terms representing Southern Maryland during the Watergate era. He is remembered as the only Republican on the House Judiciary Committee who voted yes on all three articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

In Baltimore, more than 48,000 voters wrote in a candidate for mayor. Those ballots counted for roughly 23 percent of votes in the contest.

Many of those votes likely went to Sheila Dixon. The former mayor registered as a write-in candidate after losing the Democratic primary in April to state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh. She was one of nine people who registered as a write-in candidate.

It's not yet known whom voters wrote in. Election officials have until Nov. 18 to tally votes for registered write-in candidates.

Pugh won the mayor's race with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Nearly 60 percent of Maryland voters backed Clinton over Trump. Write-ins accounted for about 1 percent of the vote for president.

Baltimore Sun reporters Erin Cox and Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

apyles@baltsun.com

twitter.com/aapyles

Copyright © 2017, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
59°