Democratic Baltimore mayoral race too close to call

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FILE - This file photo combo shows, from left, Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young, Sheila Dixon, Thiru Vignarajah, Mary Miller and Brandon Scott. Maryland residents are going to the polls and returning mail-in ballots for the states primary, and the highest-profile race Tuesday, June 2, 2020, is the Democratic contest to be the nominee for Baltimores mayor. (AP Photo/The Baltimore Sun via AP, File)

BALTIMORE – The race for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore mayor was too close to call Tuesday.

After polls closed, the city’s Board of Elections released mail-in votes received through late last week. But the slim margin of votes between the leading candidates made the race too close for The Associated Press to call without in-person vote counts and the outstanding mail-in ballots.

Based on the roughly 76,000 votes that were counted as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, former Mayor Sheila Dixon was leading the race, followed by City Council President Brandon Scott and former U.S. Treasury Department Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Mary Miller. More than 20 Democratic candidates, including incumbent Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, were on the ballot.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted the shift to a primarily mail-in election. City election officials placed the mail-in ballots in quarantine for about 12-24 hours and stopped counting them late last week in preparation for Tuesday’s election, said Armstead Jones, the director of the city board of elections.

It’s unclear when in-person vote counts will be released, but Jones said that the city will begin counting the remaining mail-in votes on Thursday.

Baltimore voters were looking for a leader who can get violent crime under control, address deep-rooted poverty and restore trust in local government. The mayoral race was the highest-profile contest on Maryland’s ballots Tuesday.

The winner of the city's crowded Democratic primary will likely become mayor. Democrats outnumber Republicans 10-1 in the state's largest city, making November’s mayoral general election mostly a formality. Baltimore mayoral races do not feature runoffs.

Elections officials allowed six in-person voting centers in Baltimore over concerns that ballots were not arriving in the mail as scheduled.