BERLIN – Worcester County voters hoping to participate in the Feb. 12 primary election have until Tuesday to register to vote or miss the opportunity this time around.
County residents not registered to vote can do so in a variety of ways before the deadline at 9 p.m. on Tuesday. With leading Democratic and Republic presidential candidates separated by mere percentage points this week, the Feb. 12 primary in Maryland and a handful of other states could go a long way in determining who is on the ballot in the General Election in November.
Eligible voters not yet registered must do so by Tuesday in order to vote for their favorite candidates in the primary. Applications are available at the county elections board office in Snow Hill, public libraries and many government offices around Worcester. Applications delivered by hand must be turned in to the elections office in Snow Hill by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, while mailed applications must be post-marked by Jan. 22. There is also an on-line application process that must be completed and submitted by Tuesday.
Of course, the most significant item on the ballot in the primary is the presidential elections and voters registered to a particular party can only vote for the candidates in that party. Also on the ballot in the primary will be a suddenly heated battle for the Maryland’s first congressional district.
Long-time incumbent Wayne Gilchrest faces a stiff challenge from five other Republican candidates, most notably Andy Harris and E.J. Pipken. On the Democratic side, four candidates including Steve Harper, Frank Kratovil, Jr., Christopher Robinson and Joseph Werner are battling for their party’s nomination to the general election ballot.
Locally, there are no races of any real importance on the primary ballot. Three school board seats are up for election this year, but only three incumbents have filed for election including school board president Garry Mumford (District 2), Sara Thompson (District 3) and Jonathan Cook (District 4).
The only other races of local import on the primary ballot are for the delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer. Locally, only former County Commissioner and current Planning Commission member Jeanne Lynch is on the ballot as a potential delegate to the Republican National Convention.
With little of local interest on the Feb. 12 primary ballot, there has not been a rush to register to vote in the county, according to Worcester Board of Elections Director Patti Jackson.
“Registration has been pretty slow,” she said. “At first, we thought we would get a rush of people registering just before the deadline, but we saw very little activity in November and December. I suspect we’ll see it pick up this week and next just before the deadline.”
Jackson said many voters traditionally forego the primary election because they feel there is little at stake, but others believe the primary elections are just as important.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of people say they like the primaries because they have more choices,” she said. “Sometimes presidential elections are won or lost in the primaries. If somebody has a candidate they really like, that candidate might not be around still in the general election.”