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Early voting gets off to a strong start in Washington County

March 24, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Steven Herson places his votes Saturday on early voting day in Washington County. Polling was conducted in the American Red Cross of Washington County building on Conrad Court.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Early voting for the April 3 primary election got off to a strong start Saturday in Washington County, with 247 voters casting ballots on the first day of the six-day early voting period, said Kaye Robucci, director of the Washington County Board of Elections.

“We’re definitely ahead of our pace from last election,” chief judge Barry Jackson said about two hours into the voting period Saturday. “It’s been pretty steady. It hasn’t been a lot of people, and it hasn’t been very dead.”

The number of voters Saturday was more than the combined total who voted in the first two days of early voting in the 2010 primary, Robucci said.

In that primary, the first day of early voting, a Friday, attracted 157 Washington County voters, and the second day, a Saturday, drew 64, she said.

In the 2010 primary, a total of 833 Washington County voters, or about 1 percent of those registered in the county, used early voting.

Saturday’s early voters included 141 Republicans, 105 Democrats and one unaffiliated voter, Robucci said.

Washington County’s early voting site this year is the American Red Cross of Washington County at 1131 Conrad Court, off Eastern Boulevard.

That site will be open for early voting Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., and Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Early voting — an option available to any registered voter — first was offered in Maryland in the 2010 election. That year, Washington County’s early voting site was in downtown Hagerstown, but it was moved to the Red Cross this year after complaints about limited parking at the former site.

Jackson said the ample parking at the Red Cross has been an advantage this year, and the space also is larger and nicer. However, one plus of the downtown site was that it saw a lot of walk-in traffic during the week from people who work downtown, he said.

“So we’ll see how that goes during the week,” he said.

Voters casting ballots Saturday had a variety of reasons for voting early.

“I’m an election judge, so I had to vote today because I can’t vote on the date because I’m out at my precinct,” Fred Nugent of Hagerstown said.

His wife, Karen Nugent, also opted for early voting, noting there was less of a wait Saturday than the time she normally votes, after work on Election Day.

Fred Nugent noted another perk of getting voting out of the way: “We get to ignore all the ads now,” he said.

He said he didn’t think anything that would happen between then and the primary election day would change how he would vote.

“You’re either totally committed to a candidate or you’re not,” he said.

Rachael Birky, 18, voted Saturday because, as a freshman at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, it would have been difficult for her to get back to her home county on a Tuesday for the election.

She was accompanied by her father, Gregory Birky, and sister, Michelle Birky.

“We both work full time, so it’s more convenient for us to do it on a Saturday rather than during the week,” Gregory Birky said.

For the voter, the process for early voting is no different than regular voting, Jackson said.

One thing some voters don’t realize is that they do not need to bring a voter registration card or identification to the polls, Jackson said.

“All they need to do is know their last name, first name, their date of birth and their street address,” he said.

Early voting also will be available from Oct. 27 through Nov. 1 ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

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