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With big turnout expected, Washington County gears up for presidential vote

July 29, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Election officials across Maryland are anticipating high voter turnout in November's general election.

In Washington County, that means more electronic voting machines, more poll books and more judges.

With less than four months to go before voters head to the polls to elect the country's next president, election workers here are preparing for a rush of voters and hoping to prevent long lines and last-minute registrations.

"We've increased our staff, our equipment. And we're really just trying to get the word out for people who aren't registered to get registered," said Kay Robucci, deputy election director for Washington County.

Robucci said the county has ordered 12 more electronic voting machines and 14 more poll books than it had in the February primary election in an effort to get people in and out of polling stations faster.

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Electronic poll books are used by election judges to check in voters and make sure they vote only once.

Washington County will have 131 poll books and 431 voting machines for the Nov. 4 general election.

The county also is planning to have 450 election judges in November, 30 more than in February's primary election, Robucci said.

Other counties around the state are taking similar measures to prepare for the anticipated high turnout.

"We have a job to do, and we'll be ready on Nov. 4," said Guy Mickley, president of the Maryland Association of Elected Officials.

If February's presidential primary election is any indication, election officials will need all the preparation they can get.

More than 1.2 million Marylanders cast votes in the 2008 primary election, according to unofficial data on the Maryland Board of Elections Web site.

By comparison, about 667,000 people voted statewide in the 2004 presidential primary.

In Washington County, more than 27,000 people voted in the 2008 primary, an increase of more than 61 percent over the 2004 primary.

About 82,000 people were registered to vote in Washington County as of July 17, according to data from the county's board of elections.

That number has risen by about 2,000 since February.

Election officials are urging people who are not registered or need to change their registration information to call the elections board now instead of waiting until fall.

"So many people come in on election day and find out that they are not registered or that their information is incorrect. So many problems can be solved if we take care of that now," Robucci said.

The last day to register to vote or to apply for address or name changes for the November general election is Oct. 14.

To make changes or to check registration status, call the Washington County Board of Elections at 240-313-2050.




Voter registration information



How do I register to vote or change my registration information?

Voter registration applications are available at the Washington County Board of Elections, 35 W. Washington St., Room 101, in Hagerstown.

They also are available at the Motor Vehicle Administration, Department of Social Services, Hagerstown Community College and the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and at recruitment offices for the U.S. Armed Forces.

People with questions can call the county's board of elections at 240-313-2050.

To check your voter registration status or information, call the elections board or visit its Web site at www.washco-md.net/election/elect1.html.

While the county is close to filling all 450 election judge spots, it still has some openings and keeps a large list of substitutes.

o If you are interested in becoming an election judge, call the Washington County Board of Elections at 240-313-2050.

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