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Washington County Election Director sees potential for bigger primary turnout

January 20, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY ? A rush of voter registration changes over the last week might signal a larger-than-usual turnout for this year's presidential primary election, Washington County Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel said Friday.

The county elections board processed about 100 address and information changes this week, Kaetzel said.

"We always see things pick up before an election, but this year it seems to be more than usual," Kaetzel said.

This year's Maryland primary, scheduled for Feb. 12, is about a month earlier than usual. Many states across the country have moved their primary elections up this year.

Kaetzel noted that there were record turnouts for the recent Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. She said the attention those states received might have something to do with this year's registration rush in Washington County.

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According to the Washington County Board of Elections' most recent figures, 79,310 people are registered to vote across Washington County, almost 8,000 more people than were registered for the 2004 presidential primary.

Of those registered to vote, about 45 percent are Republicans, 38 percent are Democrats and 15 percent are unaffiliated. Those percentages largely are unchanged from 2004.

A small portion of county voters are registered with the Green and Libertarian parties.

Washington County residents who wish to vote in the Feb. 12 primary must register by Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Eligible voters who have not registered must do so at the Washington County Board of Elections office or mail an application there postmarked by Tuesday.

Registration applications are available at the county and state boards of elections, post offices, public libraries, colleges, the Motor Vehicle Administration, the local social services department office, state health department office and aging offices, and online at www.elections.state.md.us.

To receive an application by mail, call 1-800-222-VOTE (8683).

The ballot includes candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Maryland's 6th Congressional District, the Washington County Board of Education and national convention delegates from the 6th District.

Also on the ballot this year is a question about charter home rule in Washington County, which only can be approved by a majority of voters during an election.

Voters will decide whether they are in favor of a charter drafted by the Charter Board of Washington County.

The charter would change the county's governing body from a five-member board of commissioners to a seven-member county council.

To read the charter, go to www.herald-mail.com/images/draft_charter.pdf.

All registered voters will be able to vote for board of education candidates and on the charter home rule question. Only Democrats and Republicans can vote for party candidates.




Voter registration Q&A


Q: When is the deadline to register to vote in the Feb. 12 primary election?

A: Washington County residents must register by Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Q: Where do I register?

A: Eligible voters who have not registered must do so at the Washington County Board of Elections at 35 W. Washington St., Room 101, in Hagerstown or mail an application there postmarked by Tuesday.

Q: Where can I get a registration application?

A: Applications are available at the following places:

  • County Board of Elections

  • State Board of Elections

  • Motor Vehicle Administration offices

  • Post offices

  • Public libraries

  • State Health Department offices

  • County department of social services

  • Aging offices

  • Division of Rehabilitation Services

  • Local colleges

  • Marriage license bureaus

  • Online at www.elections.state.md.us.

    To receive an application by mail, call 1-800-222-VOTE (8683).

    Q: What information do I need to fill out the registration application?

    A: Eligible voters must provide their Maryland driver's license number or, if they do not have a driver's license, the last four digits of their Social Security number.

    Q: What is on the ballot?

    A: Voters can select party candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Maryland's 6th Congressional District and national convention delegates from the 6th District.

    Also on the ballot this year are candidates for the Washington County Board of Education and a question about charter home rule in Washington County.

    Q: Can Independents vote in this year's primary election?

    A: All registered voters can vote for board of election candidates and on the charter home rule question. Only Democrats and Republicans can vote for party candidates.

    For more information on the Feb. 12 election or registering to vote, call the Washington County Board of Elections at 240-313-2050 or go to www.washco-md.net/election/elect1.html

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