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County election director predicts a bigger turnout

November 02, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel is predicting 75 percent to 80 percent of Washington County's registered voters will cast ballots in today's general election.

In the November 2000 presidential election, 47,604 Washington County residents, or 68.6 percent of registered voters, cast ballots, she said.

Polls at the 46 precincts will be open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Kaetzel said.

In today's election, local voters will cast ballots for candidates in a variety of races, including president, U.S. senator and representative and the county Board of Education.

Voters can cast ballots for up to four of the eight school board candidates, she said.

School board President Edward Forrest, 41, Vice President Roxanne Ober, 44, and board member Bernadette Wagner, 47, are seeking re-election. All three live in Hagerstown.

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The incumbents are being challenged by: Wayne Ridenour, 53, of Williamsport; William Staley, 60, of Hagerstown; former board member Thomas Berry, 72, of Rohrersville; Teresa Spruill, 46, of Smithsburg; and Barry C. Harbaugh, 45, of Clear Spring.

There are 77,309 county residents registered to vote in today's election, compared to 69,000 in the presidential election of 2000, Kaetzel said.

Of those, 30,139 are registered as Democrats and 35,569 are registered as Republicans, she said.

Kaetzel said there seems to be more local interest in this presidential election, which she hopes will result in more people turning out at the polls.

The county Election Board has issued 3,700 absentee ballots, up from 2,600 in the 2000 presidential election, she said.

As a precautionary measure, the Election Board has established alternate polling places, she said.

The alternate sites will be used only if something "catastrophic" happens at one of the regular polling places, such as power outages or storms, she said.

The alternate polling places will have paper ballots while the regular polling places will have voting machines, she said.

The alternate polling places are at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike, Western Enterprise Fire Co. at 526 Washington Square, the Venice Inn, the Leitersburg Activity Center and Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Department, she said.

She said the Election Board plans to post the election results on its Internet site: www.washco-md.net/election/elect1.html.

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