Sussex County primary vote results officially certified

Front left, Sussex County Department of Elections Deputy Kenneth “Beau” McDowell on Friday signs the document certifying the Sept. 15 primary election results. Looking on, clockwise from back right, State Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence, Wayne Osborn (IT manager at Sussex County Department of Elections) and Jean Turner, Sussex County’s Deputy Director. The certification in Sussex County took place at 10 a.m. Friday at the Department of Elections headquarters in Georgetown. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe

GEORGETOWN — Polls across Delaware in the 2020 primary elections Tuesday, Sept. 15 night closed on or a little past 8 p.m., if voters were already waiting in line.

Statewide, final “unofficial” results from the 436 precincts were posted on the state Department of Elections website about 3 1/2 hours later. For candidates in close races and their supporters, it likely made for an anxious evening.

Given the wave of absentee/mail-in ballots cast during the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s new website, state and Sussex County elections officials say all went pretty much according to plan.

“There was actually no delay. We have an updated website, and the website updates a little less frequently. It is a much more comprehensive website than we had in the past,” said State Election Commissioner Anthony J. Albence. “But in terms of the reporting timeframe, we had everything reported. Right after 11 p.m. we had a few districts that were still out. They were mostly in the north, in New Castle.”

Friday at 10 a.m., Mr. Albence joined Sussex County Department of Elections Director Kenneth “Beau” McDowell and others in official certification of the primary results for Sussex County.

Certification, mandated by Delaware Code, was held at the Sussex County Department of Elections headquarters on North Race Street in Georgetown. Certification of results in Kent and New Castle counties were held later in the day Friday.

All results up to then were “unofficial.”

State Election Commissioner Anthony J. Albence is about to randomly draw one of several paper tallies for the Department of Elections’ audit.

Totals from late Tuesday night did change slightly but did not affect outcomes. “We had 10 provisionals that came in after the fact. Those are reflected in totals,” said Mr. Albence.

This year’s primary election was punctuated by approximately 76,000 absentee and vote-by-mail ballots, Mr. Albence said.

Absentee/mail ballots accounted for nearly 43 percent of the 177,519 ballots cast. Voter turnout was 32.26 percent, of the 550,288 registered voters eligible in the primary.

The final update of results Sept. 15 came in at 11:34 p.m.

“We had 97 percent of the results in by 10:30 p.m.,” said Mr. Albence. “Given the fact that we had a tremendous amount of absentee and vote by mail, the fact that we were able to report everything 100 percent on election night was a great accomplishment, I thought.”

“The machines performed great,” said Mr. McDowell. “So, everything went pretty smooth.”

“Basically, in terms of our timeframe everything was in,” said Mr. Albence. “We were happy to get everything in on election night.”

Mr. McDowell said elections departments are now gearing for the General Election Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“We’re probably going to need more machines and more poll books for the next election,” said Mr. McDowell. “We’re in the process of figuring out exactly what the right balance will be.”