Early Voting More Popular Than 2010

SNOW HILL — Friday is the last day that voters will have a chance to cast an early ballot in this year’s presidential election.

Early voting this year has already set a new record with officials attributing the bump to an urge to vote before the disruptive arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

Early voting began in Worcester County last Friday and will carry on until Friday, Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. This is only the second election in which Worcester residents will have the opportunity to vote early, the first being the 2010 mid-term election.

Worcester County Board of Elections Director Patti Jackson confirmed that turnout at that election was steady if not shocking. All six early voting days last year were between 111 and 175 voters per day, with a grand total of 855.

Early voting in Worcester County just on Saturday surpassed last year’s total with Sunday also going strong.

“Saturday was around 1,000, Sunday was about 400,” said Jackson.

While the storm helped boost turnout, it did throw a wrench into the scheduling of the polls. Originally set to end Thursday, Sandy forced officials to cancel voting on both Monday and Tuesday, prompting them to push the final deadline until Friday as well as to extend voting hours every day this week, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

The location of the polls also had to be moved due to complications from Sandy. Early voting last weekend took place at the Gull Creek Senior Living Community in Berlin but an evacuation of the site forced the Election Board to re-locate to the Government Center on West Market Street in Snow Hill.

Though cancelations, re-locations, and hour changes can often create confusion, Jackson said that early voting was still going strong since the pools re-opened Wednesday. 
When asked why residents should consider early voting, Jackson listed a number of reasons, all centered on convenience.

“Some people don’t want to wait around in a long line,” she said, noting that voting on Election Day can become congested.

Another reason to vote early is that it keeps those who have to travel in early November from needing an absentee ballot. Jackson thinks early voting can increase citizen participation in any election.

“It does increase voter turnout,” she said.

For those unable to make early voting, traditional polls will be open on Election Day, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Multiple polling sites will be offered throughout Worcester.

For more information on voting or voting locations visit www.co.worcester.md.us/elections or call 410-632-1320