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Later hours could draw more voters

May 13, 2012

Sometimes it’s hard to stir up political interest in a small town. Voter turnout is frequently low, and as we’ve seen, sometimes even candidate turnout leaves something to be desired.

Smithsburg had difficulty finding people to run for town council, and in Clear Spring last November, all of 22 people turned out to vote in the town election.

For the good of the county and the towns, we would still hope that as many people as possible become involved in the electoral process. Just because there’s no political excitement in your town at the moment doesn’t mean that something that affects your life won’t pop up in the coming years.

And when it does, you will want men and women in office who can competently represent you and meet new challenges.

One idea to help improve voter turnout might be to keep the polls open a little later in the evening. Polls in Hancock, Williamsport and Clear Spring, for example, close at 7 p.m., while Funkstown closes polls at 6 p.m.

With commuters traveling greater distances to find work, and many having to work two jobs, an extra hour or two might make a difference.

Not every town can be a hotbed of political activism, and not every town wants to be. But where interest is tepid, any little obstacle that gets in the way of voting can be fatal for participation. To that end, towns that do not already do so might follow the state’s lead and open polls earlier and keep doors open until 8 p.m. to allow for as many voters as possible.

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