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September 8, 2010

Few vote early so far

Just over 33,000 Marylanders had taken advantage of the state's new early voting rules in the first three days of early voting, according to data on the Maryland Board of Elections website.

That means roughly one percent of the state’s 3.1 million registered voters had gone to the polls from Friday to Monday. Early polling places will be open two more days. Primary elections don’t usually draw large numbers of voters – four years ago 29 percent of registered Maryland voters participated. (See photo below of an early voting center at Northpoint Library courtesy of Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz.)

Statewide, the two busiest counties so far are Prince George’s with 5,800 voting and Baltimore County where 5,780 voted. Overall larger percentages of eligible Democrats are voting early than Republicans – but not by much -- 1.21 percent of Dems have voted verses one percent of GOP voters. These figures do not inNorthpoint Library in Baltimore Countyclude absentee ballots.

GOP leaning Kent and Garrett counties stood out as the two areas with the largest percentage of registered voters taking advantage of the new rules. That’s a bit surprising given Republicans in the General Assembly vehemently opposed the early voting program when it was first suggested in 2005.

In Baltimore city's waterfront 46th district, Senate challenger Bill Ferguson has not yet marshaled his promised troops to take on Sen. George Della. The young candidate touted a sophisticated early voting plan to beat the incumbent, however as of Monday a mere 428 had cast ballots.

(UPDATE: Ferguson says via text message that turnout is "slightly lower than expected" but says his supporters are going to the polls by a four to one margin. There is no real way of verifying this that I can think of.)

Instead, most of the early voting in Baltimore is occurring in Northeast’s 43rd District, where 963 (or 1.7 percent) have voted in the contest between incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway and challenger Hector Torres.

Torres, a former Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman, hasn’t raised much money but is trying to ride the year’s anti- politician theme by accusing Conway of being bought by Annapolis special interests. The district had high turnout four years ago; with 34.43 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in that district. That percentage beat the state average and made the 43rd the second most vote happy district in the city.

Oddly, Northwest Baltimore’s 41st legislative district, where there are no contested races for the General Assembly, so far has the second highest voter turnout with 923 taking part. Del. Sandy Rosenberg hypothesized that the top of the ticket State's Attorney match-up between incumbent Patricia Jessamy and challenger Gregg Bernstein could be driving the higher turnout there. Also, he noted, two of the city’s five early voting centers are located in the district.

Another reason could be that residents there just really like to vote – in 2006 the district had the highest participation figures in the city.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:05 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Early voting
        

Comments

The fact that Kent County is leading the State in early voting should not be a surprise. Kent generally has one of the highest participation rates in each and every election. This year, it looks like folks are voting early as a convenience. It is doubtful that Maryland will differ from other states with early voting. That is, voters will vote early but, by the close of election day, the number of voters will not be appreciably different than before early voting.

On Saturday, 102 voters cast ballots in Kent County. There were nine workers on duty at the polling place from 10AM-8PM (not counting two full-time Election Board employees who worked the day at the Election Office). These 102 votes had to cost Kent County taxpayers $10+ per vote cast. At some point, we should ask if the cost is worth the convenience, or should we go the way of Oregon and simply mail a ballot to every registered voter.

I voted early, but I voted at a polling place closer to my work, not my home. The voting location and the specific race aren't directly correlated.

** From Annie:

Jen - True that you don't have to cast early votes in your district (just your county) - however the Maryland State Board of Elections is helpfully tracking vote totals by legislative race. The folks at the Board of Elections are also producing separate daily reports showing which early voting locations are the most popular. It is a fun thing to poke through if you need a 30 minute procratination from work.

I have a difficult time getting to my polling place and waiting with my children, so I have voted absentee for a number of years. Absentee is still better than early voting for me. Wonder how many people will switch over, given the convenience of the absentee system?

MAYBE IF WE KNEW WHERE THE EARLY VOTING PLACES ARE LOCATED IN BALTO COUNTY,WE MAY GET MORE VOTERS OUT THERE

Manny, you obviously understand how to use the internet

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/elections/

simple google search. It is not hard.

Manny: see
http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/early_voting.html

I voted last night and as I left people handing out flyers were all saying "thanks for coming out and voting early". I said proudly, "No problem, see you again tomorrow night!"

I am a senior citizen who reads the paper as many seniors do,why can't just put early polling places in the paper.It does not seem like a very differcult thing to do.

Again, I ask is the cost worth the effort for early voting. It was recently reported in the local newspaper that it is costing Anne Arundel County $300,000 to operate the polls for early voting. What is the cost benefit especially when the state and the counties are having trouble with budgets. Since this was a democrat initiative no one ask about the cost, had it been a republican idea the daily cost would have been on the front page of the Sun each day.

The only way I think Ferguson could figure out a vote margin is by having supports holding clipboards and conducting their own low-cost exit polling.

Where is Mikulski and her campaign? Is she hiding from her voting record as a Obama Lapdog??? Maybe she is hoping to get by on name recognation. Her health care vote has help to cause my healthcare premium to double in the past month. If you don't believe that, just check with Aetna insurance rates. Someone has to pay for illegal aliens insurance, dependants on health care until they are 26 years old and another 30,000 non-paying people who will get free insurance. This increase amounted to about 5% of my company retirement income. Thanks Mikulski .

So that's 33,000 votes for the Democrats no doubt. The voting system in this Democrat controlled liberal state is crooked as can be.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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