Vot­ing starts in Ce­cil

New laws may boost turnout

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Twenty-five vot­ers were wait­ing in line Thurs­day morn­ing when Ce­cil County’s early vot­ing be­gan at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, and they may be joined by a num­ber of newly reg­is­tered vot­ers this year due to new elec­tion laws.

“We’re pleased with the

ELK­TON

voter turnout so far,” County Elec­tion Di­rec­tor Deb­bie Tow­ery said about an hour af­ter the polls opened. “The first day of early vot­ing is usu­ally busy.”

Typ­i­cally, early vot­ing slows down af­ter the first day, es­pe­cially on the week­end, she noted.

El­iz­a­beth and Rod­ney Bai­ley brought their young daugh­ter, Dakota, with them from Colora on Thurs­day to par­tic­i­pate in early vot­ing.

“We can’t make it on April 26, so this works well for us,” El­iz­a­beth said.

This year, early vot­ing runs daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, lo­cated at 200 Ch­e­sa­peake Blvd. in Elk­ton, un­til April 21.

Mary­land’s Pri­mary Elec­tion Day is April 26, but with eight days of early vot­ing avail­able, vot­ers have op­tions for when to par­tic­i­pate in the process that de­ter­mines which can­di­date from each po­lit­i­cal party will rep­re­sent their party in the Gen­eral Elec­tion on Tues­day, Nov. 8.

What’s new this year, how­ever, is that while voter reg­is­tra­tion for the April 26 Pri­mary Elec­tion has closed, vot­ers who show up dur­ing the early vot­ing pe­riod can con­tinue to reg­is­ter and have their bal­lots counted. To reg­is­ter dur­ing early vot­ing, res­i­dents must bring a doc­u­ment prov­ing their ad­dress. This doc­u­ment can be a state-is­sued li­cense, ID card or change of ad­dress card, or a pay­check, bank state­ment, util­ity bill, or other govern­ment doc­u­ment with a name and new ad­dress.

The im­pact of the newly en­fran­chised felons will also be an in­ter­est­ing point to watch in this elec­tion cy­cle. The Gen­eral Assem­bly ap­proved leg­is­la­tion this past ses­sion to al­low felons who are on pa­role or pro­ba­tion to vote along with those who have suc­cess­fully com­pleted their sen­tence.

Ce­cil County’s elec­tion of­fice has trained judges to work the polls both dur­ing early vot­ing and on elec­tion day to ex­plain the new vot­ing sys­tem, which will pro­vide a pa­per trail of all votes cast.

Mary­lan­ders will likely be more en­er­gized to par­tic­i­pate in their pri­maries this year as no Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date — now down to busi­ness­man Don­ald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich — has the nom­i­na­tion in hand, and sup­port­ers of Sen. Bernie San­ders look to cut into for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton’s lead on the Demo­cratic ticket. For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and Ka­sich have made ap­pear­ances in the state over the past two weeks, try­ing to drum up sup­port in the Old Line State.

Mean­while, both the First District con­gres­sional race and a U.S. Se­nate race have be­come in­creas­ingly vis­i­ble. In­cum­bent Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Andy Har­ris faces chal­lenges from for­mer Ce­cil County Del­e­gate Michael Smigiel, re­tired Mary­land State Po­lice bar­rack com­man­der Sean Jack­son and for­mer can­di­date John Goff. On the Demo­cratic ticket, for­mer Sal­is­bury Mayor Jim Ire­ton is squar­ing off against Har­ford County at­tor­ney Joe Werner.

With U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski’s re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment a year ago, a bevy of can­di­dates, es­pe­cially within her Demo­cratic party, have thrown their hat into the ring to re­place her. Demo­cratic U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Ed­wards have led a pub­lic feud over the seat as they vie amongst many oth­ers for the party’s nom­i­na­tion. Mean­while, Mary­land Del­e­gate Kathy Szeliga is the most vis­i­ble face in a group of peren­nial can­di­dates on the Repub­li­can ticket.

Lo­cally, there is as much at stake as at the na­tional level, as county ex­ec­u­tive, two county coun­cil seats and two seats on the county’s school board are up for grabs this year.

Repub­li­cans will choose amongst County Coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Alan McCarthy, County Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger, new­comer Greg MacDon­ald and con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Joe Cara­betta for county ex­ec­u­tive. The win­ner will face the lone Demo­cratic can­di­date, Port De­posit Mayor Wayne Tome.

In the county coun­cil races, Repub­li­cans coun­ty­wide will elect two can­di­dates to run un­op­posed in the gen­eral elec­tion — mak­ing them the de facto win­ners. In District 1, H&B Plumb­ing owner Bob Mef­fley faces re­tired Del­marva em­ployee Tom Cole. In District 5, teacher and con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Jackie Gre­gory squares off with ma­rina owner Paul Tra­pani.

Fi­nally, in the District 2 school board race, both Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic vot­ers will choose up to two of three can­di­dates — Erin Do­or­dan, Jim Fazz­ino and Ron Lo­bos — to move on to the gen­eral elec­tion bal­lot, where they will square off for the sin­gle seat. While District 1 will also be listed, both can­di­dates Wil­liam Manlove and Kevin Em­merich are al­ready guar­an­teed a spot on the Novem­ber bal­lot.

Can­di­dates and their sup­port­ers lined both sides of Ch­e­sa­peake Boule­vard on Thurs­day hold­ing signs and wav­ing to vot­ers as they ar­rived for early vot­ing. Sunny skies and mild tem­per­a­tures helped those cam­paign­ing, as did a mo­torhome brought in by one of the can­di­dates to of­fer a rest­ing spot and re­stroom con­ve­nience for all cam­paign work­ers.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Ce­cil County’s only early vot­ing place was buzzing with ac­tiv­ity Thurs­day as vot­ers, can­di­dates and sup­port­ers con­verged at the county ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing in Elk­ton.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Rod­ney Bai­ley, of Colora, holds his daugh­ter, Dakota, in his arms Thurs­day, as he casts his votes in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial pri­mary.

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