Sen. Ronald N. Young proposes more early-voting options

He filed bill to give counties in smallest category the option of having up to three early-voting centers

March 03, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Young

ANNAPOLIS — Counties could make early voting more convenient with more polling places, Sen. Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, told a Senate committee Thursday.

Under state law, counties with fewer than 150,000 registered voters must have one early-voting center.

The number rises to three centers for counties with 150,000 to 300,000 registered voters and five centers for counties with more than 300,000 registered voters.

Young filed a bill to give counties in the smallest category the option of having up to three early-voting centers.

He told the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee that Frederick County's northern and southern points are about 20 miles from the county's early-voting center.

Stuart Harvey, Frederick County's election director, testified that the Maryland Association of Election Officials supports Young's proposal.

He said early-voting turnout dropped the farther you got from the county's center.

Early voting started in Maryland for the 2010 elections. Voters had six days before the primary and six days before the general election to cast ballots.

Harvey said voter participation will be much higher in 2012, a presidential election year, possibly creating delays if there's only one early-voting center.

Washington County, also in the smallest voter registration category, had an early-voting center on West Washington Street in downtown Hagerstown.

Washington County's other two senators — Republicans Christopher B. Shank and George C. Edwards — are co-sponsors of the bill.

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