Early voting results are in for the Howard County Board of Education races, and they show four candidates up by large margins in their four districts and one tight race.
District 1 incumbent Christina Delmont-Small and District 5 candidate Yun Lu are both winning by about 29 percentage points, while District 2 candidate Antonia Barkley Watts and District 3 candidate Jolene Mosley are leading by between 46 and 57 points in their districts. In District 4, however, incumbent Jen Mallo leads Sezin Palmer by 5.6 points.
Despite the big leads for the four candidates, it is still too early to determine the winners in the local races. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, voters utilized multiple different forms of voting, including mail ballots, drop boxes, early in-person and on Election Day.
The early results, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website, include all votes cast by early in-person voters and a majority of the mail ballots that have been received by the Howard County Board of Elections office. The early results do not include votes cast on Election Day.
As of Monday, the county’s elections office had received about 91,000 of the nearly 108,000 mail ballots that were requested by Howard County voters. At 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, at least 63,000 of those 91,000 mail ballots were included in the county’s early results.
In District 1, Delmont-Small leads Matthew Molyett 64.7% to 35.3%. The early results include 21,819 votes — 10,653 from early in-person voting and 11,166 by mail. Delmont-Small is running for a second term on the school board. She was first elected in 2016.
Watts (73.1%) is leading Larry Pretlow II (26.9%) among District 2′s approximately 21,000 reported votes. Meanwhile, in District 3, Mosley (78.9%) is ahead of Tom Heffner (21.1%) with nearly 19,000 votes counted so far.
Watts’ and Mosley’s leads aren’t surprising considering decisions made by their opponents in the months leading up to the election. Both Pretlow and Heffner suspended their campaigns in September, although their decisions were after the deadline to be removed on the ballot. Pretlow, however, later rescinded his suspension, while Heffner decided to instead endorse Mosley.
In District 4, Mallo (52.8%) leads Palmer (47.2%) among the district’s 22,935 early reported votes. Mallo is running for a second term on the school board. She was first elected in 2018.
In District 5, Lu leads Cindy Vaillancourt with 64.5% to 35.5% among the 23,615 votes. Lu is running for the Howard County Board of Education for the first time, while Vaillancourt was on the board from 2010 to 2018.
Howard County races to watch
Howard County Board of Education District 1
Howard County Board of Education District 2
Howard County Board of Education District 3
Howard County Board of Education District 4
Howard County Board of Education District 5
Howard County Question A - Council redistricting
Howard County Question B - Term limits for boards
Howard County Question C - Discrimination protections
Circuit Court Judge District 5 Howard County
The winners in the five districts will make up the first Board of Education in Howard County to be voted in by residents in a district instead of the entire county. Current Vice Chair Vicky Cutroneo and member Chao Wu will remain on the board through 2022, serving as the first two at-large members in the new system.
In addition to the five local Board of Education, national and state races, Howard County’s ballot also featured Howard County Circuit Court judge and three county referendum questions.
Quincy Coleman (52.3%) is leading incumbent John Kuchno (47.7%) in the Circuit Court judge race among the race’s 105,784 votes from early voters and some of the county’s mail voters.
All three county referendum questions have significant support so far.
The first question, which proposes changing the dates for the County County to appoint members to the Councilmanic Redistricting Commission, has 72.3% support. The second question, asking voters to shorten appointment terms for citizen boards from five years to three, has 87.8% support. The final question, which would add several anti-discriminatory clauses to the charter for the first time since the 1960s, has 80% support.
Prior to Election Day, a record number of Howard County residents had already voted. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, voters across the county requested mail ballots at a higher rate than almost any other jurisdiction in the state, second only to Montgomery County, and voted early in-person more than any year in history, according to election officials.
Nearly 108,000 Howard County residents requested a vote-by-mail ballot by the Oct. 20 deadline. As of Nov. 2, almost 91,000 of those ballots had been received by the Howard County Board of Elections. Those ballots, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3, could continue trickling in through Nov. 13.
In addition to those who chose to vote via a mail ballot, approximately 60,000 Howard County residents voted in person before Election Day at one of the county’s five early voting centers. The first day of early voting on Oct. 26 had long lines in the morning, as a single-day record of 11,580 people voted throughout the day, according to election officials. The lines subsided as the day and week of early voting continued.
The 60,715 people who voted early during the eight days before Election Day this year is slightly higher than the 59,054 people who did so in 2016; however, by percentage, 2016 was higher, as the number of registered voters in the county has increased by about 19,000 voters in the past four years.
Overall, at least 152,270 people cast their ballots before Election Day in Howard, with up to about 16,000 mail ballots that were requested by voters but have yet to be returned to the elections office.
With about 226,000 active registered voters in the county, the early voting turnout represents about 67% of the county’s voters and 93% of the total turnout from the 2016 general election (163,668). In 2016, Howard County’s total turnout was 78.97%, the highest percentage of any county in the state.