Make sure you're ready to cast your 2008 ballot

June 17, 2008|By BOB MAGINNIS

Is it June already?

That's what many people in the Tri-State area are asking themselves as the days zip by and they rush to balance the demands of work with the need to spend at least some time vacationing with the family before the children are all grown up.

Yes, it is June and before too long it will be November, when Washington County voters will need to make some choices at the polls - not only for president, but for the local School Board.

Studying the candidates and their platforms is every citizen's responsibility.

But all of that study won't mean anything unless you're registered to vote. You have until Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. to do that, but there's good news, according to Kaye Robucci, deputy director of the Washington County Board of Elections.


Robucci said that applications are everywhere, including on the state election board's Web site at:

"Print it off, fill it out and send it to us," Robucci said, adding that this form cannot be faxed or e-mailed, because the board needs an original signature.

The address of the local board's office is 35 W. Washington St., Room 101, Hagerstown MD 21740-4833.

Applications are also available at the following locations: U.S. Post Offices, all state agency offices, the Washington County Free Library, the Washington County Clerk of Court's office, the Department of Social Services, the Washington County Health Department and Hagerstown Junior College.

You may also fill one out at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offices.

Who is eligible to vote?

Robucci said that to vote, an applicant must be 18 by Nov. 4, a citizen of the U.S. and registered to vote in Washington County at least 21 days before the general election.

If you have been convicted of certain crimes - buying or selling votes, for example - you cannot register. Other convictions also affect eligibility and these are spelled out on the application.

Your application must also contain either your Maryland driver's license number or Motor Vehicle Administration ID number.

If you have neither, you can use the last four digits of your Social Security number instead.

Would you like help in registering? The League of Women Voters of Washington County will have registration tables at the Smithsburg Steam & Craft Festival, the Leitersburg Peach Festival, Maugansville Pride Days and C&O Canal Days in Williamsport.

Can you help with the election itself? If you're not an elected official, a candidate, or related to either, you can become an election judge. Contact the local elections office at 240-313-2050 to sign up for a training course that takes three to four hours.

In the presidential election of 2004, about 58,000 of the county's approximately 77,000 registered voters cast ballots, for a 75.13 percent turnout. Four years later, about 81,000 are registered.

"A 100 percent turnout would be good, wouldn't it?" Robucci said.

It would be wonderful. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4 and the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please come out and vote.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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