ELKTON — County election officials are encouraged by record-breaking results from eight days of early voting and hope that bodes well for turnout during Tuesday's primary election.
Polls will be open at local precincts from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
In total, 2,229 people came out to vote during the early voting period from June 12-19, representing about 4.67 percent of eligible voters, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. That total represents a nearly 40-percent increase from 2012, when 1,387 people took advantage of early voting periods, said Debbie Towery, county election director. In 2010, the first year for early voting in Maryland, 1,288 participated.
“We definitely think it was encouraging to see a steady turnout throughout the period,” Towery said Friday. “I think people are finding early voting opportunities convenient. We'll see what Tuesday holds.”
When asked if she thought the high turnout for early voting may signal fewer people heading to the polls on Tuesday as some pundits have suggested, Towery said she wasn't sure.
“Some people have told us at the polling place that they won't be here on Tuesday, but others I think just want to avoid the lines,” she said. “Hopefully, the high early voting participation numbers are indicative of voters' interest in the races.”
Towery said her office also used several avenues to promote early voting opportunities, including in newspapers, the county website and social media.
A printing error earlier this month led to the county elections office mailing roughly 15,000 sample ballots without incorrect polling precincts listed for voters. It mailed corrected postcards to those who were affected, Towery said.
“If you didn't receive a postcard, but still believe your polling precinct may be incorrect, you can call our office at 410-996-5310 to verify your info,” she said. “You can also go to https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/votersearch to find your info.”
Voters have a lot of choices on the primary ballot outside of the gubernatorial races, which will surely draw many to the polls.
Republicans will decide the future of the Cecil County State's Attorney's Office as only Republican Michael Halter has challenged incumbent Ellis Rollins III. The winner will face no challenger in the November election.
Voters of both parties can also potentially end the Cecil County Circuit Court judicial race between Brenda Sexton and Kevin Urick. If either candidate earns the majority of votes from both parties, then only he or she will appear on the November ballot. If they split the ticket, then the race will continue.
Under charter government, voters elect all five county council members at large, regardless of their polling precinct, and this year three of the five seats are in play.
In council District 2, incumbent Joyce Bowlsbey faces challenger Chris Zeauskas in the Republican primary while Democrat John Ulrich awaits the winner.
In council District 3, incumbent Republican Michael Dunn faces challengers Dan Schneckenburger and Bob Willick while Democrat Bob Porter awaits the winner.
In council District 4, incumbent Diana Broomell faces Michael A. Dawson and George Patchell in the Republican primary as Democrat Wayne Tome awaits the winner.
The race for the next county sheriff has been heated, as nine men vie for the county's highest law enforcement position. Republicans Scott Adams, William Killough, Chip Peterson, Dan Slater and Chris Sutton will square off for the party's nomination while Dan Blackburn, Bill Gerczak, Guy Miller and Bilton Morgan look to represent Democrats.
Republicans will also choose either Michael W. Dawson or Gaylord Moody III to run against incumbent Register of Wills Lyn Nickle.
Republican voters in southern Cecil County will have the chance to keep representation in Annapolis by nominating one of four men to represent the 36th District: Rod Heinze, Alan McCarthy, incumbent Michael Smigiel or J.D. Uhler. Only one of three district delegates can come from each of the district's four counties, meaning one will once again be without representation.
In western Cecil County, voters will choose between three Harford County Republicans — Andrew Cassilly, Jason Gallion and Teresa Reilly — and two Democrats — Jeffrey Elliott and Daniel Lamey — in District 35B.
Republican voters in the greater Elkton and North East areas will select a candidate to square off against incumbent Democratic Delegate David Rudolph in District 35A. Their options include Kevin Hornberger, John Mackie, Jr., and Mary Podlesak.
In the State Senate, southern Cecil County Republicans will decide between incumbent Stephen Hershey and Richard Sossi to face Ben Tilghman in the November election for District 36. In western and north Cecil County, Republicans will choose between Wayne Norman and Thomas Wilson to take on Democrat Bridget Kelly in the general election.
For profiles on all candidates in contested Cecil County races, visit http://www.cecildaily.com/election_2014/