Early voting turnout con­tin­ues to climb head­ing into the fi­nal day

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Luke Broad­wa­ter Bal­ti­more Sun Me­dia Group re­porters Jon Blei­weis and Rachael Pa­cella con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. lbroad­wa­ter@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/ luke­broad­wa­ter

Early voting turnout con­tin­ued to surge Wed­nes­day as elec­tions of­fi­cials pre­pared for the fi­nal day of voting be­fore the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

To­day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. is the last day of early voting at 67 lo­ca­tions across the state. It’s also the last day to reg­is­ter to vote at one of those sta­tions.

As of Wed­nes­day, more than 730,000 Mary­lan­ders had cast bal­lots in the hotly con­tested pres­i­den­tial race be­tween Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump — well more than the 430,500 Mary­lan­ders who took ad­van­tage of early voting in 2012.

Though Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans 2-to-1 in Mary­land, about three times as many Democrats have voted to date.

Opin­ion polls in Mary­land have showed a large lead for Clin­ton, but na­tion­ally her chances of win­ning are shrink­ing — amid news re­ports about an FBI in­quiry into emails on a close aide’s com­puter.

At the Ar­bu­tus Re­cre­ation Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more County — the largest swing ju­ris­dic­tion in the state — vot­ers were com­ing in at an av­er­age of about 30 per half-hour, ac­cord­ing to chief judge Tracy Tan­ner. But many said their minds were made up about the pres­i­den­tial race months ago.

Among them was Sa­man­tha Le­wandowski, a 39-year-old di­eti­cian and long­time in­de­pen­dent voter, who said no re­cent events swayed her away from Clin­ton. .

“I think I had my mind up on the is­sues

Vot­ers guide

Mary­lan­ders will elect a new U.S. se­na­tor and sev­eral mem­bers of Con­gress in 2016. Cit­i­zens in Bal­ti­more will vote for a new mayor and comp­trol­ler and mem­bers of City Coun­cil. The gen­eral elec­tion is Nov. 8. For a look at the races, go to data.bal­ti­more­sun.com/voter-guide-2016 quite some time ago,” she said.

Bran­don Ki­plinger, a 27-year-old ma­chin­ist from Ar­bu­tus and a reg­is­tered Repub­li­can, said re­cent events, in­clud­ing the res­ig­na­tion of CNN­con­trib­u­tor Donna Brazile af­ter it was re­vealed she leaked in­for­ma­tion to the Clin­ton cam­paign, sealed his de­ci­sion to vote for Don­ald Trump.

“It all helps my vote,” he said. “It all makes it seem more con­crete.”

In Tow­son, the polls were busy Wed­nes­day morn­ing, said Denise Isaac, chief Demo­cratic judge for the early-voting site at Tow­son Univer­sity’s ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. The Tow­son lo­ca­tion has served be­tween roughly 1,300 and 1,500 vot­ers each day of early voting, ac­cord­ing to State Board of Elec­tions data.

There, 20-year-old Tow­son Univer­sity ju­nior Lau­ryn Hightower said she waited in line for about 30 min­utes to vote for Clin­ton. Re­cent news re­ports didn’t sway her de­ci­sion, she added.

The po­lit­i­cal sci­ence ma­jor said she pre­ferred Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders, who lost to Clin­ton the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

“But there’s no use in split­ting the vote,” Hightower said.

Or­rin Yesko, 56, of Rux­ton said he also voted for Clin­ton, adding that re­cent news re­ports did not sway his de­ci­sion. He pre­ferred Clin­ton’s pos­i­tive mes­sage com­pared to what he called a neg­a­tive mes­sage from Trump.

Also leav­ing the polls on Wed­nes­day after­noon was Car­ney res­i­dent Dale Fred­er­ick, 59, a reg­is­tered Demo­crat who said he voted for Trump. Re­cent news re­ports did not sway his de­ci­sion, he said. “I’d like to see some change,” he said. Fred­er­ick said he has been mean­ing to change his voter af­fil­i­a­tion, as he has been voting for more Repub­li­can can­di­dates in re­cent years. He said he doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with some of Trump’s opin­ions, but be­lieves that, once in of­fice, the can­di­date would sur­round him­self with a bet­ter sup­port staff and “straighten out his at­ti­tude.”

In ad­di­tion to the pres­i­den­tial race, vot­ers are cast­ing bal­lots in a U.S. Se­nate race be­tween Demo­crat Chris Van Hollen, Repub­li­can Kathy Szeliga and Green Party can­di­date Mar­garet Flow­ers.

There are also races for Con­gress, Bal­ti­more mayor and Bal­ti­more City Coun­cil.

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