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Election workers have answers to voters' last-minute questions

April 02, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Larry Shipe, an election clerk, loads electronic poll books and printers on a rolling cart Monday afternoon at the Washington County Board of Elections in downtown Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

With hours to go before primary election day, employees at the Washington County Board of Elections office spent a busy Monday issuing supplies to poll workers and answering last-minute questions from voters.

“A lot call and just ask, are they registered,” election director Kaye E. Robucci said. “We’ll look them up and we’ll confirm that.”

Election office employees also remind callers that only those registered as Democrats or Republicans have something to vote for in this primary, Robucci said.

Races in Tuesday’s primary include the Republican presidential race, Maryland’s 6th Congressional District seat, one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, and delegates to the Democratic and Republican party conventions.

Hagerstown residents also will vote for mayor and city council. The city council voted in 2009 to change the election dates to coincide with the presidential election after a ballot question to do so received overwhelming support.

Another frequently-asked question before the primary is about the minimum voting age, Robucci said. As long as a voter will be 18 on or before the Nov. 6, 2012, general election, he or she may vote in the primary, she said.

“Another one is, ‘If I don’t vote in the primary, can I still vote in the general?’ and the answer is, ‘Yes, of course,’” Robucci said.

Some callers have misplaced their voter registration cards and call to find out where to vote, she said. A few of the county’s polling places have changed this election: Precinct 8-0 now votes at Rohrersville Station 8; precincts 24-1 and 24-2 vote at the WACOHU Grange Hall; and precincts 28-1, 28-2 and 28-3 vote at Northern Middle School.

Voters are not required to bring identification or registration cards in order to vote, Robucci said.

Poll workers picked up equipment and supplies Saturday, Sunday and Monday in preparation to set up Monday night and this morning, she said.

Election office staff said they spend weeks packing supplies destined for polling places.

“It’s just literally anything you can imagine: All the extension cords and power cords and ‘I voted’ stickers,” Robucci said.
Polls will use the same electronic voting system used in the last election, she said.

The county has about 500 poll workers for the primary and is seeking more for the general election, she said. Poll workers are paid $150 for the day and must attend a training session this summer, she said.

Robucci said she is optimistically predicting about 40 percent of the county’s registered voters will turn out for Tuesday’s primary, based on the strong turnout during early voting.

“There has been a lot of interest in the congressional race, and the City of Hagerstown’s on the ballot,” she said.

Turnout in the 2008 presidential primary was 34.8 percent in Washington County; in the 2004 presidential primary, it was 23.9 percent.

Washington County has 84,312 active registered voters, including 30,977 Democrats and 37,462 Republicans.

There were 1,384 early voting ballots cast in the county.

As of Monday morning, about 865 Washington County voters had requested absentee ballots. The election office had received more than 600 of those by Monday. Absentee ballots that are mailed must be postmarked no later than election day, Robucci said. Absentee ballots also may be hand-delivered to the election office at 35 W. Washington St., Room 101, no later than 8 p.m. on election day, she said.

A first set of absentee ballots will be canvassed on Thursday at 10 a.m. and a second set — those received after the first count — will be canvassed April 13 at 10 a.m., Robucci said.

Provisional ballots will be canvassed April 11, she said.

Washington County Public Schools are closed Tuesday because many of the schools serve as polling places.

Voting information for Maryland voters

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To verify that you are registered and to find your polling location, visit the Maryland Elections Center website at www.mdelections.umd.edu.

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