Voting starts in Cecil
New laws may boost turnout
— 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
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 County’s only early voting place was buzzing with activity Thursday as voters, candidates and supporters converged at the county administration building in Elkton.
Rodney Bailey, of Colora, holds his daughter, Dakota, in his arms Thursday, as he casts his votes in the 2016 presidential primary.