County voter registration up 10 percent
Deadline to register is Oct. 18
cmattix@ cecilwhig. com
— With a little less than two weeks left to register, the number of voters in the county is already up more than 10 percent over the last general election.
Voter registration figures as of Sept. 1 show a total of 70,901 registered voters in Cecil County, an increase from the 64,234
registered voters in the 2014 general election.
“I expect a bigger turnout at the polls this year because it’s a presidential election year,” Cecil County Election Director Debbie Towery said last week.
The latest registration figures indicate Republicans continue to outnumber Democrats in Cecil County by 4,444. All political parties showed registration increases since 2014 though, with the largest increase coming from Republicans with 2,508 additional voters registering while 2,026 more registered as unaf filiated and 2,019 more registered as Democrat. And those numbers could still go up as voters have until 9 p. m. Oct. 18 to register.
Next month’s election will also mark the second go- round for the state’s new voting system, which was implemented for the first time during this year’s April
primary election. Maryland voters will now cast their vote using paper ballots as par t of a statewide move to create a verifiable paper trail for better reliability of election results. That system replaces touchscreen voting machines that have been used in the state for the last 10 years.
“My staff and I are making sure the new system runs smoothly for the general election,” Towery said, noting she
has also hired 10 local people to ser ve as field support on election day. “They’ll each be assigned to two polling places to do trouble- shooting for us.”
Towery enlisted recruitment help from Cecil College and Susquehanna Workforce Network to line up the field support team.
“I wanted to use the community,” she said.
Despite some needs for election day judges leading up to the primar y election this spring, Towery said she has a full set of 300 judges hired for the general election and their training is nearly complete.
The election office will be extra busy daily between now and Nov. 18 when election results are officially cer tified. But the election office staf f works hard all year keeping records up to date, registering voters, hiring and training election judges, keeping up with changes in the election laws and making sure the public is aware of any changes.
“If you requested an absentee ballot in the primar y election for both elections, your ballot was mailed last week,” said Bobi Jo Wilson, election administrative assistant.
The deadline to request an
absentee ballot by mail is Nov. 1, while the online deadline is Nov. 4 and voters can make the request in person at the office in the county administration building in Elkton until 8 p. m. Nov. 8.
Sample ballots will be mailed on Oct. 10 and 18.
Cecil County voters can begin casting ballots during eight consecutive days of early voting that runs from Thursday, Oct. 27, through Thursday, Nov. 3, at one polling place in the Elk Room of the County Administration Building, located at 200 Chesapeake Blvd. in Elkton. Hours
for early voting in the general election will now be two hours earlier, opening at 8 a. m. Early voting ends at 8 p. m. during the eight days.
Tuesday, Nov. 8, is general election day at 21 polling places throughout Cecil County with polls open from 7 a. m. to 8 p. m.
For Towery, it’s now been almost three years since she was hired to head up the election office and she’s looking forward to next month’s election.
“I’m excited for this election,” she said. “I’m a lot more comfortable now.”
Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz, center, talks to students in Cecil College’s commercial truck driver training program.
Voters fill out their ballots during the 2016 primary election in April. Voter registration is up 10 percent in the county ahead of the general election next month.