The Baltimore election board will begin opening more than 3,500 absentee ballots tomorrow at 10 a.m.
More than 4,200 ballots were issued for the election. As of late yesterday, 3,564 had been returned to the election office. Of those, roughly 3,100 were cast by Democrats, according to city election officials.
In addition, any ballot that arrives in today's mail and that was postmarked by Monday will be accepted.
City election administrator Barbara E. Jackson said the counting of the absentee ballots should take less than a day.
Baltimore election officials predicted that the absentee-ballot counting process should go much more quickly than it did in last year's disputed gubernatorial election.
One main reason is that city election officials stuck to the letter of the law and issued no absentee ballots unless a voter used a sworn affidavit to request it.
Also, there should be no blanket challenge to absentee ballots like the one mounted last year by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey.
Mrs. Sauerbrey lost handily at the ballot box in Baltimore and knew that she would fare little better in absentee voting.
Even so, Ms. Jackson said she was braced for any challenges. "After last year, I expect anything," Ms. Jackson said, referring to the drawn-out counting of thousands of absentee ballots.