BERLIN — Despite the apparent general apathy surrounding next week’s primary election, held in late June for the first time ever, the preliminary early voting totals appear to suggest there might be more interest in the races to be decided next week than first believed.
Voters across Maryland will head to the polls Tuesday, June 24, to cast their ballots in several state and local races. Some races with just two candidates from the same party will be decided on Tuesday, while others with single Republican and Democratic candidates won’t be resolved until the General Election in November. In most, however, each party has at least two candidates, meaning the field will be winnowed down after the ballots are counted on Tuesday.
The general assumption has been voter turnout will be low on Tuesday, with a late June primary and all of the summer distractions that come along with it. However, the early voting numbers suggest there might be more interest in the outcomes than expected. Early voting has been held at venues across the state for the last week, and while the numbers certainly aren’t astounding, thousands have turned out to cast early ballots in most jurisdictions.
In Maryland, nearly 112,000 voters have cast primary ballots since early voting opened last Thursday with one day still to go, representing over 3 percent of the eligible voters in the state. Closer to home, 998 voters in Worcester cast early ballots since last Thursday, again representing just over 3 percent of the county’s 31,792 eligible voters. In Wicomico, there are similar numbers with 1,603 voters casting early ballots out of 46,922 eligible voters.
The jurisdictions with the highest percentage of early voters are among those with the smallest number of eligible voters. For example, in Talbot County, 1,768 early ballots had been cast as of late yesterday, representing over 8 percent of that county’s total number of voters. In neighboring Kent County, 659 early ballots were cast, representing 6 percent of that county’s total. Naturally, in the populous counties in the center of the state, the number of early ballots are the highest, but the percentages hold close to the state average of just over 3 percent. For example, Baltimore County led with 17,748 early ballots cast, while 16,853 were cast in Prince George’s and 14,745 were cast in Montgomery County.
The official election day statewide is next Tuesday with the polls open at various locations in each jurisdiction from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Again, while the lead-up to the primary has been relatively quiet, there is much at stake on Tuesday. For example, in the newly created District 38C, Democrats Mike Hindi and Judy Davis will square off on Tuesday for the right to face Republican Mary Beth Carozza in November. In House District 37B, Republicans Christopher Adams, Rene Desmarais, Johnny Mautz, Allen Nelson and Karen Tilley will square off in the primary to see who emerges to face the winner of the Democratic primary between Rodney Benjamin and Keasha Haythe.
The Worcester Commissioner District 6 seat will essentially be decided on Tuesday with Republican incumbent Madison “Jimmy” Bunting facing challenger Linda Busick. In other Worcester districts, the primary will set up races in November. For example, in District 4, Republicans Kathryn Lord-Danko, Ted Elder and Molly Hilligoss will square off with the winner emerging to face incumbent Democrat Virgil Shockley. Similarly, in District 5, Republicans Chip Bertino, Grant Helvey and Ray Unger fill face each other in the primary for the right to take on Democrat Tom Wilson.
The Worcester County Sheriff’s race will be decided on Tuesday with incumbent Republican Reggie Mason facing Republican challenger George Truitt.
There are five candidates for Clerk of Circuit Court in Worcester including Republicans Susan Braniecki, Mary Burgess and Eric Mullins, along with Democrats Marie Bodley and Valerie Gaskill. The list will be winnowed to just two candidates in the primary.
In the Wicomico Council races, in the At-Large District, Republicans Muir Boda, John Cannon and incumbent Matt Holloway will square off in the primary for the right to face Democrat Laura Mitchell in November. Three Democratic candidates have filed for Wicomico Council District 1 including Marvin Ames, Ernest Davis and McKinley Haywood in a race that will be decided in the primary in June. In the Wicomico Council District 3, Republicans Larry Dodd and Tom Taylor will square off on Tuesday for the right to face the lone Democratic candidate, Josh Hastings, in November.
Meanwhile, 20 candidates for Maryland governor will have their fates decided on Tuesday. There are no less than 12 Democratic candidates for governor, most notably current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler. There are also eight Republican challengers for governor on the ballot. In U.S. Congressional District 1, which includes the entire Eastern Shore, Republican incumbent Andy Harris will face challenger Jonathan Goff on Tuesday, while two Democrats, John LaFerla and Bill Tilghman are on Tuesday’s primary ballot.