Many take advantage of early voting in Washington County

November 03, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Sophia McCauley watches her dad, Jack McCauley, cast his vote on Friday at the Red Cross Headquarters on the last day of early voting. The McCauleys live in Boonsboro.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Navy Chaplin Washington Johnson of Hagerstown voted early for the first time Friday and said that he understands the importance of voting, having grown up in Birmingham, Ala., a major location of the civil rights movement.

“It is an act that I have to participate in, and I take it very serious,” he said. “I wanted to be ahead of the crowd. On Election Day people can stand in line for an hour.”

Friday was the last day of early voting in Maryland for the 2012 General Election.

Going into Friday, 5,693 people had voted in Washington County, and another 3,113 absentee ballots had been returned, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website. Among early voters, 2,373 were registered Democrats, 2,570 were registered Republicans, 699 were unaffiliated, 12 were registered with the Green Party, 12 were registered Libertarian, and 27 fell into the “other” category.

Final figures were not available Friday evening because the voting was in progress until 9 p.m.

Bob and Sandy Linthicum of Boonsboro took advantage of early voting for the second time, and they both talked about how early voting could become more popular in the future.

“People who vote early can avoid the crowds,” Bob Linthicum, 68, said. “I think it’s going to really grow.”

Sandy Linthicum, 62, said early voting eventually could increase voter turnout.

“If the weather’s bad on (Election Day), people won’t want to do it,” she said. “A week in advance is long enough. It’s less crowded, and I can do it for my convenience.”

The polls were closed for two days this past week due to Superstorm Sandy, resulting in a one-day extension. Washington County Election Director Kaye Robucci said she was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who showed up to vote.

“It’s been fantastic in Washington County,” she said. “Early voting is catching on. People are realizing that it’s convenient.”

Robucci said she was surprised by the number of people who showed up to vote Wednesday — 1,629 — the day the polls reopened after being closed for two days.

“We expected people to come out Saturday and Sunday when they found out the weather was going to be bad,” she said. “I didn’t realize that many people would come out on the weekdays.”

Rohrersville resident Judy Warner, 69, voted Republican down the line on Thursday and was out campaigning against Questions 4, 5, and 6 on Friday. However, she said that she is against early voting and only did it because she is working at her precinct on Election Day.

“There’s really a lack of community now, and voting is supposed to take place in your community, but now everybody is just Washington County,” she said. “In the scheme of elections, it’s not really good. Things come out after early voting starts.”

Warner’s neighbor, Tom Ruhf, 63, was out campaigning for John Delaney on Friday and said he voted Thursday, but mainly down the Democratic line. He said that he supports early voting and anything else that would make voting more accessible to people.

“Early voting could help somebody who works two jobs a particular day or is tied down because they have a sick person at home,” he said. “Whatever helps people exercise their right to vote is good.”

Hagerstown resident Joyce Johnson voted on Friday because she has to travel next week and said that she thinks in the future voting will continue to get easier.

“I think at some point there will be a way to vote without even being physically present,” she said. “We’re advancing rapidly with technology, and early voting is convenient.”

Early voting in Maryland was enacted after the Maryland General Assembly in 2007 approved a constitutional amendment that would give it the authority to pass legislation allowing it pending an approval of Maryland voters, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections website. The voters approved it in 2008, legislation was enacted in 2009, and early voting began in 2010.

Here is the number of early voters each day in Washington County, through Thursday.

  • Saturday: 1,420
  • Sunday: 1,096
  • Monday: Polls closed due to storm
  • Tuesday: Polls closed due to storm
  • Wednesday: 1,612
  • Thursday: 1,565

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