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Storm alters early voting

October 30, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

The storm that blasted the East Coast this week has slightly altered the election process in Maryland.

Two of Maryland’s six days of early voting were canceled because of the bad weather. An extra day will be added on Friday, giving the public five days to vote early before the Nov. 6 general election.

Also, early-voting centers will stay open three extra hours each day.

In West Virginia, early voting was suspended, only for Tuesday, in six counties — including Jefferson and Morgan — because of the storm. Berkeley County didn’t request a suspension, Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said.

Pennsylvania doesn’t have early voting.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce is going ahead with a 6th District candidate forum on Wednesday.

Democratic challenger John Delaney and Republican incumbent Roscoe G. Bartlett told the chamber they’d attend.

On Tuesday, Bartlett’s campaign confirmed Bartlett’s attendance, but canceled later in the day, said Brien J. Poffenberger, the chamber’s president.

Ted Dacey, Bartlett’s campaign manager, said Bartlett instead plans to help constituents affected by the storm.

In an emailed statement, Dacey wrote: “Given the severity of the damage associated with Hurricane Sandy, Congressman Bartlett has put the needs of his district first and is canceling his political appearances through Wednesday to focus on doing all he can in his position as Congressman to help the people of this district who are suffering get back on their feet.”

Lisa Wright, Bartlett’s press secretary, said Bartlett will visit the emergency shelter activated at Brunswick Volunteer Fire Company in Frederick County at 8:30 a.m., then tour storm damage in Brunswick and at C&O Canal National Historical Park.

At 2 p.m., he’ll go to Washington County’s emergency services building on Elliott Parkway near Williamsport. County officials will lead a tour of storm damage.

In between, Wright said, Bartlett will have two other storm-related stops: visiting Fort Detrick and talking to an insurance company about claims processing.

Poffenberger said the chamber made it clear early on that if one candidate didn’t participate, the forum still would go on with the other.

Wednesday’s forum will be held at 7:30 a.m. at Academy Theater, 58 E. Washington St., Hagerstown.

The chamber didn’t invite Libertarian candidate Nickolaus Mueller, who also is on the ballot, sticking to its policy of inviting only candidates from the two major parties.

Will McDonald, a spokesman for Delaney, said the change in early voting doesn’t affect Delaney’s strategy, which is reaching as many voters as possible.

On Sunday, Delaney was out campaigning. But on Monday, as the storm approached, Delaney stayed inside and helped campaign staff make more than 4,000 calls to potential voters, McDonald said.

Dacey said Bartlett’s campaign hasn’t discussed the possible effect of early-voting changes. “I know he’s just focusing on the district,” Dacey said.

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