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Parties hope for higher primary turnout

September 11, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

Maryland's primary election is Tuesday.

In Washington County, 50 precincts in 49 locations will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

About 79,000 Washington County residents are "active registered voters," meaning the Board of Elections has verified that the voter's correct address is on file, according to Dorothy Kaetzel, the Board of Election's election director.

Kaetzel said that about 75 percent of Washington County's eligible voters are actually registered.

In the last nonpresidential primary election, in 2002, less than 24 percent of Washington County's registered voters turned out to vote, Kaetzel said.

The Board of Elections expects about the same turnout this year, she said.

Republicans are hoping for a higher-than-average turnout from their party due to "interesting contested races," said Paula Lampton, chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

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Lampton said she would like to see a 40 percent turnout among Republicans, although in the past 20 to 30 percent have voted in primary elections, she said.

Democrats are also hoping for a turnout of about 40 percent, said Rick Hemphill, chairman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee.

"I am always very optimistic. I hope people realize how important their right to vote is," Hemphill said. Between 9,000 and 12,000 Democrats voted in the last primary election, he said.

Turnout for primary elections tends to be lower because not everyone can vote, Hemphill said. Only those registered as Democrats or Republicans can vote, and about 12 percent of Washington County's voters are Independents, he said.

"There are some exciting Republican races. We do expect a higher turnout than normal," said Lampton. Voters are particularly interested in the races for state's attorney and sheriff, she said.

Early voting was canceled after a judge determined early voting violated the Constitution of Maryland, according to a news release from the State Board of Elections.

More than 400 people are working at the polling places in Washington County, Kaetzel said.




Maryland primary



Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

If you have a question. call the Washington County Board of Elections at 240-313-2050.

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