2021 Annapolis election: Registering to vote, who’s running, when ballots will be mailed and more

Annapolis will hold its 2021 primary elections on Sept. 21.

Voters will then choose a mayor and eight City Council members in the Nov. 2 general election.


Some things will be different this year, including a new voting system in which ballots will be mailed to voters in contested primary elections and all registered voters for the general election. The number of polling locations will also change and include dropboxes where voters can safely return their ballots.

If you’re wondering: How do I register to vote? Who is running and why? When will I receive a ballot in the mail? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the Annapolis elections.


When is the election?

The primary election will be held on Sept. 21. Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The general election will be held on Nov. 2. Polling places will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Enter your home address here to find out what ward you live in: https://www.annapolis.gov/528/Find-Your-Representative.

Use that ward to find the correct polling place listed here: https://www.annapolis.gov/1813/The-Polling-and-Drop-Box-Locations.


Who is running?

Democratic Mayor Gavin Buckley is seeking a second term. He will face Republican Steve Strawn, the former Annapolis Republican Central Committee chair, in the general election.

Seven of eight current City Council members, all Democrats, are running for reelection.

In Ward 1, Elly Tierney.

In Ward 4, Sheila Finlayson.

In Ward 5, Brooks Schandelmeier.

In Ward 6, DaJuan Gay.

In Ward 7, Rob Savidge.

In Ward 8, Ross Arnett.

Three incumbents will have primary challengers.

Four Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination: Scott Gibson, Ward 2; Monica Manthey, Ward 5; George Gallagher, Ward 6 and Rock Toews, Ward 8. None of the races are contested. They will automatically become the nominee in the general election.

Democrat Karma O’Neill is seeking her party’s nomination in Ward 2.

Sixteen candidates have filed to run for Annapolis Democratic and Republican central committee seats. None of the seats are contested, so each is automatically elected to the positions.

How much have candidates raised for their campaigns?

The first campaign finance reports submitted Aug. 24 showed Ward 5 Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier had raised nearly $35,000 in donations, the most among all City Council candidates, while all but one Republican candidate have lagged behind in fundraising.

Scott T. Gibson, a Republican from Ward 2, pulled in about $21,000. The third-largest war chest is held by Democratic Ward 3 candidate Keanuú Smith-Brown who has raised $17,579.48.

The second reporting deadline is Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m. The Annapolis City Clerk’s office is expected to post each candidate’s report sometime after that deadline.

If I haven’t yet registered to vote, am I too late?

For the Annapolis primary election, yes, it’s too late to register; the deadline was Aug. 16.

The last day to register for the general election is Oct. 4.

Annapolis residents may register to vote online at: elections.maryland.gov/voter_registration/application.html.

Voter registration applications can be submitted in person at your local board of elections or the State Board of Elections. Offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on deadline days.

How can I vote in the election?

Under a new voting system approved this spring and upheld by a recent Anne Arundel Circuit Court decision, ballots have been mailed to registered Democratic voters who live in wards with contested elections (Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 8) for the Sept. 21 primary election. All registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail for the Nov. 2 general election.

Mailed ballots can either be returned by mail, dropped at ANY of the eight ballot drop boxes or handed in at a polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Drop boxes will be open on or around Aug. 20 until general Election Day. Ballots that are mailed back with a postmark of Election Day or before will also be counted.


In-person voting will be held on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is one polling place per ward. Find your polling place here: annapolis.gov/1813/The-Polling-and-Drop-Box-Locations.


If I am not a registered Democrat or Republican can I vote in the Sept. 21 primary?

No. Annapolis holds closed primaries in which only members of the two major parties can vote. Registered voters from any party or are unaffiliated can cast a ballot in the Nov. 2 general election.

Will I be voting in a contested primary?

Three Democratic primaries (Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 8) are contested, meaning two candidates from the same party are seeking one seat.

All other Democratic and Republican primary races have one or fewer candidates. The candidates in those races automatically become the general election candidate.

Will I get a primary election ballot if my ward doesn’t have a contested primary?

No. Only registered voters in contested primaries will receive a ballot in the mail. The elections board has sent out a letter explaining that City Code only requires ballots to be cast in contested elections. The mailer also includes information about all of the candidates who are running across the nine races.

When will I get my ballot?

Ballots for the primary election were mailed around Aug. 30.

Ballots for the general election will be mailed around Oct. 8.

If a voter does not receive a ballot in the mail they should contact the election board.

I won’t be at my address when my ballot arrives, how do I vote?

You can request to have your mailed ballot sent to a different address.

In an emergency, voters can request an emergency mail-in ballot with this form: https://www.annapolis.gov/DocumentCenter/View/19612/Emergency-Mail-In-Ballot-Instructions-and-Application

Do I have to pay for the postage if I mail my ballot back?

No. The City of Annapolis is paying for the postage.

When will my ballot be counted?

Ballots cast on Election Day will be counted the same day.

Ballots returned by mail, placed in drop boxes or cast provisionally will be counted when canvassing begins on Sept. 22, the day after Election Day.

In order for mail-in ballots to be counted, they must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service by Election Day, placed in ANY of the eight ballot drop boxes or handed in to a polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Drop boxes will open around Aug. 20 until general Election Day.

Canvassing, the process of opening envelopes with a mail-in or provisional ballot and the review of ballots in preparation for vote tallying, will take place over two days. The first day, Sept. 22 will be spent counting mail-in ballots. The second canvassing day will take place on Sept. 28 to count provisional ballots and any mail-in ballots received after the first canvass.

When will I know who won?

It’s hard to say. Votes cast in-person on Election Day will be counted and published on capitalgazette.com and the city website at annapolis.gov when they become available.

Election officials have said canvassing of mailed ballots will last as long as required but shouldn’t take more than one day to count the mailed ballots on Sept. 22.

Depending on how close some races are, a winner could be determined if the gap between candidates is greater than the remaining mail-in or provision ballots. For close races it might take until Sept. 28, the second canvass day, to determine a winner.

The election is not certified until after all canvassing is completed.

How do I become an election judge?

To be an Annapolis election judge, you must be a registered Maryland voter, able to read, write and speak English. Those interested should submit an election judge application using this form: https://www.annapolis.gov/DocumentCenter/View/12319/Election-Judge-Application-PDF.

Who is overseeing the Annapolis elections?

The Annapolis Board of Supervisors of Elections, a three-person appointed board oversees the elections. The members are Democrats Eileen Leahy, chair, and Briayna Cuffie. The newest member, Republican Rebecca Brenia, was sworn in Aug. 16.

The city elections board will be assisted in running the elections by the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, a state agency under the Maryland Board of Elections, which provides voting machines and other infrastructure.

Anyone with questions about the election process can call a dedicated elections phone number at 410-263-7929 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you have a question that isn’t answered in this FAQ, please email bdubose@capgaznews.com and we will try to get it answered for you.