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Tuesday marks Maryland’s first primary election held mostly by mail. In Baltimore, voters cast their ballots in several close races, including mayor, City Council president and comptroller.

While officials encouraged people to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, some still stood in socially distant lines at the state’s limited in-person voting centers. Many were there because they never received their ballots.

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Long lines meant many of the polling places remained open past 8 p.m., delaying early returns.

It could be days before officials finish counting the remaining ballots — including those placed in drop boxes on or shortly before Tuesday. Ballots returned by mail had to be postmarked by Tuesday, and it could take several days for all of them to arrive. And due to health concerns, officials have been “quarantining” ballots for 12 to 24 hours after they have them in their custody, extending the counting time.

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As of Monday, 87,777 of the nearly 330,000 ballots mailed to Baltimore voters ahead of the primary had been returned. That’s about a 27% turnout thus far. By comparison, about 148,000 people cast ballots in the 2016 primary, a 45% turnout overall when counting voting at the polls on primary day, early voting, absentee ballots and provisional ballots.

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