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Tight race may pack area's polling places

November 06, 2000

Tight race may pack area's polling places



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


Tri-State area voters are expected to flock to the polls Tuesday, largely because of what is shaping up to be the closest presidential race since 1960.

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Polls in Maryland and Pennsylvania are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In West Virginia, the polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

While most of the attention is focused on the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, there are several congressional seats and local elections to be decided.

Washington County voters will cast ballots for a congressman and U.S. senator. Congressional staffer Donald M. DeArmon, a Democrat, is trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., while a former state trooper, Republican Paul Rappaport, wants to upset U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.

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Four seats on the Washington County Board of Education will be filled by the top vote-getters in the eight-person nonpartisan race.

Three incumbents are running, Edwin M. Hayes, Andrew R. Humphreys and Doris J. Nipps. The challengers are John W. Cohen, W. Edward Forrest, Roxanne Ober, Bernadette M. Wagner and Russell S. Williams.

Washington County Election Board Director Dorothy Kaetzel said that race could be determined by absentee ballots, which will continue to be counted Wednesday as long as they are post-marked by today.

The large number of requests for absentee ballots is a sign there is a lot of interest in the election, she said.

Despite the 2,600 absentee ballots requested in Washington County, Kaetzel was predicting a total turnout of 77 percent here, which is less than the county's 84 percent turnout in 1992.

More voters are registered now than in 1992, however, largely due to nationwide motor-voter laws that have allowed people to register at the same time they get their driver's licenses.

Of the 69,422 voters registered in Washington County, 30,907 are Republicans and 29,086 are Democrats. Another 9,275 declined to affiliate with any party, she said.

Voter turnout can be affected by the weather. Tuesday's forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies with high temperatures in the mid-50s.

In addition to picking candidates, Washington County voters will be asked two constitutional amendment questions.

The first question is whether to exempt the Cecil County Board of County Commissioners from the state requirement that elections be held every four years. Cecil County wants to have staggered terms with elections every two years.

The second question is whether to authorize the Prince George's County Council to immediately take property for redevelopment between Suitland Federal Center and Silver Hill Road.

The Council would pay fair market value, plus any amount later awarded by a jury, and offer financial assistance and payment to displaced owners or tenants.

In West Virginia, where voters will elect a governor, Democrat Bob Wise is hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Cecil Underwood. Republican Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Jim Humphreys are in a hotly contested race for Wise's former congressional seat.

Jefferson County, W.Va., voters will elect a new sheriff, Democrat Everett "Ed" Boober or Republican Kevin A. Alden.

In Franklin County, Pa., there is a battle over the state House of Representatives' 89th District seat. Democratic incumbent Rep. Jeff Coy is running for his 10th term against Republican challenger Kenneth L. Gill.

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