Edgewater County Council member Jessica Haire was leading former Annapolis Del. Herb McMillan for the Republican nomination in the Anne Arundel county executive race after more than 23,300 in-person primary votes were counted.
With all 195 precincts reporting around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, Haire had received 12,321 votes to McMillan’s 11,457 votes, according to the state board of elections. The tally included about 5,200 early votes.
The primary race remained too early to call with thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be counted Thursday and only 864 votes separating the leading candidates.
In a distant third behind Haire and McMillan was former Anne Arundel County Council member John Grasso, who received 3,484 votes. Fernando Berra III and Chris Jahn, received 835 and 495 votes, respectively.
Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman, who is unopposed in his primary race, received 22,530 votes.
Early returns from election day began rolling in about an hour after polls closed Tuesday. Throughout the day, voters trickled into polling places across Anne Arundel County, motivated by competitive races for governor, concerns over tax increases and plain old civic duty.
At least 4,000 Republicans returned ballots by mail or to drop boxes as of Monday, according to the county election data. Canvassing of mailed ballots begins at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The Anne Arundel County Board of Elections sent out more than 45,000 mail-in ballots to voters, about 33,000 to Democrats and 12,000 to Republicans. By Monday, a little over 18,000 total ballots had been returned, 14,000 from Democrats and 4,000 from Republicans. Mailed ballots had to be returned before polls closed Tuesday or postmarked by election day to be counted.
Additional canvass dates are scheduled for July 27 and 29. That means results could be delayed by days or even weeks. Close races, including both Democratic and Republican nomination contests for governor, might be impossible to call for quite a while, election workers and state officials warn.