Republicans anticipated absentee role ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Maryland Republicans figured early on that this year's election for governor might be so close that it would come down to a count of absentee ballots.

So, a couple months ago, the Maryland Republican Party mailed an absentee ballot application to every registered Republican in the state -- 489,000 pieces of mail in all.

State election officials say they have no idea how many of those Republican ballots were returned, nor for that matter how many have come in from the Democrats.

Officials know that just over 50,000 absentee ballot requests were made, but they do not know how many people voted absentee.

Gene M. Raynor, the state elections chief, said whether the ballots came in by mail or were delivered by hand to each of the 24 local election boards, they were put into vaults, much the way mail is dropped into a box.

On Thursday morning, each local election board will pull out its absentee ballots, count the votes and report the findings to Mr. Raynor at the state headquarters.

By Thursday afternoon, Mr. Raynor will announce whether Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey or Democrat Parris N. Glendening is Maryland's next governor.

Mr. Raynor said an absentee runoff has never before decided a Maryland gubernatorial race.

While Democrats did nothing as elaborate as the mass mailing by the Republicans, Kate Head, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said her office mailed out absentee ballots whenever they were requested.

Both sides predicted the absentee count would break their way.

"I would think that will go the same way the voting has, because the people who are most concerned about taxes, who are going to vote for an Ellen R. Sauerbrey, would be the kind to fill out an absentee ballot," said GOP Chairwoman Joyce L. Terhes.

David Seldin, Mr. Glendening's spokesman, said, "We've had an aggressive program to make sure our voters who weren't going to get to the polls got their absentee ballots."

Ms. Head said the Democrats were confident that when the absentees are counted, the bulk of them will come from the same three big jurisdictions that kept Mr. Glendening in the race.

"I believe the mother lode of requests for absentee ballots is in Prince George's, Montgomery and Baltimore City," she said.

To vote absentee, a registered voter need only ask for a ballot in a timely fashion and return it to his or her local election board before the polls close on Election Day.

"Absentee ballots are requested by people who will not be in their polling place on Election Day," Mr. Raynor said. "Some are sick, or away, or are election judges who have to work all day."

Absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S. can be counted as late as Nov. 18, as long as the voting took place before Election Day.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

Here are the absentee ballot requests received by election officials statewide. Officials do not know how many requests came from Democrats or Republicans, nor do they know how many absentee ballots were returned.

851 ...... Allegany

4,309 .... Anne Arundel

4,194 .... Baltimore City

7,000 .... Baltimore County

832 ...... Calvert

328 ...... Caroline

1,642 .... Carroll

804 ...... Cecil

1,070 .... Charles

363 ...... Dorchester

1,432 .... Frederick

491 ...... Garrett

2,300 .... Harford

3,316 .... Howard

440 ...... Kent

10,247 ... Montgomery

4,700 .... Prince George's

526 ...... Queen Anne's

1,000 .... St. Mary's

554 ...... Somerset

651 ...... Talbot

1,377 .... Washington

805 ...... Wicomico

883 ...... Worcester

50,115 ... Total

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