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Incumbent Anne Arundel judges in the lead for Circuit Court seats as preliminary election results are released

Anne Arundel County’s four incumbent Circuit Court judges are poised to keep their seats after the four lead in both the Republican and Democratic races.

Incumbent judges Pamela Alban, Elizabeth Morris, Rob Thompson and Richard Trunnell are all leading in both races, according to initial counts of ballots mailed in and cast in-person.

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If the four maintain this lead, they would each earn a 15-year term following the primary since the general election would be no contest.

“We like where we stand and we are grateful for the support,” said Jim Burton, who serves as the campaign manager for the incumbent judges, who ran as a slate. " I think it demonstrated that voters supported the slate and saw that they were solid judges."

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Former Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams is currently in fifth in the Republican race and sixth in the Democratic. Private practice lawyer Annette DeCesaris is in fifth in the Democratic and sixth in the Republican race. Election officials are still counting ballots, so these positions could change.

Voters were still in line hours after polls closed Tuesday, delaying the immediate release of the initial mail-in ballot and in-person results in the judicial race. Results from in-person voting and other mail-in ballots will continue to flow in Wednesday and for the next 10 days, a result of the election conducted largely via mail for the first time in Maryland.

The Anne Arundel County Circuit Court race is competitive this year with six candidates, including four incumbent judges, running. If Republicans and Democrats both have the same top four candidates after the primary, those candidates automatically win, and the race won’t be listed on the ballot in November.

In Maryland, the governor appoints Circuit Court judges, who must stand for election to a 15-year term on the next statewide ballot. Challengers can file to unseat the recently appointed judges.

The incumbent judges ran on a slate they dubbed “Keep Our Judges.”

“We are thinking we are going to have a late-night tonight,” said Anne Arundel County Elections Director Joe Torre.

Voting at in-person voting centers has been generally discouraged due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has sickened more than 4,009 county residents, killed at least 169, and left more than 60,000 unemployed. Gov. Larry Hogan urged all residents to vote by mail or ballot dropbox unless they are unable to.

Still, at least 3,597 people lined up at voting centers Tuesday, standing in socially distanced lines — some that stretched long after polls were set to close at 8 p.m.

Preliminary results from Anne Arundel’s in-person voting was not reported by the State Board of Elections until after 2:30 a.m., one of the last three jurisdictions outstanding along with Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

So far, the county has also received more than 98,000 ballots via mail. Out of about 330,000 total eligible voters in this primary election, that means slightly more than 30% of potential votes have been cast and counted. Elections officials accept complete ballots as long as they are post stamped on or before June 2. They will continue counting until June 12, when official results are expected. If it takes longer to count all the ballots dropped in boxes and mailed in, that date could be delayed.

As ballots are counted, results could change. Still, the incumbent judges who lead have almost unilateral and bipartisan support of the Anne Arundel County delegation and the county council (they’ve been endorsed by the local police union, too).

Morris and Trunnell greeted voters outside the cut-off line for electioneering in Odenton and Annapolis. They touted the vetting process that saw them and their colleagues earn Hogan’s appointment to the bench. They answered questions from voters about the process and about their stance on the protests. Morris said she described how she evaluates each case carefully to avoid implicit bias.

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Sean Connor, 22, of Severna Park, said he was focused on the judicial candidate’s qualifications and views of the community when he cast his ballot, “kind of just me, as as an African American male if I have a place in their view of this country.”

Clarice Graves, 49, a Democrat from Annapolis, said she didn’t want to break up the slate because of the experience the judges have gained on the bench. Her spouse acted differently: Raoul Graves, 40, a Democrat from Annapolis, cast his vote for Adams at the expense of Thompson, who he said he was unfamiliar with.

“Wes Adams has done a lot in the community for a lot of people,” Graves said.

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