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September 16, 2010

Primary turnout hits historic low

For all the talk of an energized electorate, and even with the new opportunity to vote early, turnout in Tuesday’s primaries was the lowest in for a gubernatorial election year in Maryland going back at least to 1982, the earliest year for which records were available.

Of Maryland’s 3,167,846 eligible voters, 761,413 cast ballots in the primaries, for a turnout of 24.04 percent, according to unofficial counts released Thursday by the State Board of Elections. The numbers do not yet include provisional or absentee ballots, but judging from previous elections, these are unlikely to be enough to push the total over the state’s previous low of 28.64 percent in in 1998.

This year, 2.44 percent of the electorate took advantage of early voting, offered for six days at central locations in each county; 21.6 percent voted on Tuesday, the traditional primary day, when local polling places were open.

In spite of a competitive Democratic primary for state's attorney, Baltimore saw a lower-than-average turnout of 21.49 percent. Baltimore County, venue for a comeptitive race for county executive, had a turnout of 29.45 percent.

Two of Maryland's least populous counties, meanwhile, distinguished themselves in electoral enthusiasm: Garrett County led the state with 39.59 percent turnout, including 35.09 percent on Tuesday. Talbot county led in early voting participation with 6.78 percent.

Statewide turnout in 2006, the last gubernatorial election, was 29.6 percent. That might have been driven in part by a competitive Democratic primary race between Benjamin L. Cardin and Kweisi Mfume for the open Senate seat vacated that year by retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 3:27 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Early voting, Primaries 2010


You refer to 3 million-plus "eligible voters." Does this number include all Marylanders who could possibly vote, or only those who are registered to vote?

Hard to get motivated for a Morton's Fork

As a registered " Independent" voter, my voice was silenced ..... I have no right to vote!

State officials estimated that adding Early Voting for the Primary Election cost state and local governments over $3 million. So much for increasing voter participation. All we've managed to do is further strain already tight state and local budgets. I wish the government would stop trying to be so helpful. We're getting buried under the cost of all of their good intentions.


This sanctuary state of illegals that omalley caters too must be on vacation!!
I've been hearing biotching all year that we need new leaders and when it comes time to put up or shut up, they shut up!! Are people that lazy or don't they have families, children and grandchildren they worry about? Nobody in their family out of work while illegal aliens working everywhere stealing jobs from our families? Wake up people. Get up off lazy butts and do
something different. Vote out omalley, babs, vallario, guittierez, and others that have catered to illegal aliens instead of citizens. We taxpayers paid out almost $2billion last year to illegal aliens and casa de md.. wake up..

Will the true reporters, please step up?! Voter turnout was low because political incumbents wanted it low. Low turnout favors incumbency. Party leaders and incumbents engaged in exactly zero GOTV efforts for either early voting or for primary election day. The low turn-out was not happenstance. It was the plan!

What wold it take to get some in-depth reporting? Perhaps some historic analysis? What?!

@L. Evans wrote 'As a registered " Independent" voter, my voice was silenced ..... I have no right to vote!'

You chose not to participate in the Primary election by not affiliating with a party. Those are the rules and you played under them.

It is too easy to change your affiliation for the party of your choice for the Primary - fill out a form and drop it in the mail. You made the choice not to vote. Only you can fix it.

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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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