County breaks early voting record
Nearly 16 percent cast ballots
— Nearly 16 percent of registered voters in Cecil County have already cast their ballots in the 2016 Presidential General Election, breaking the county’s record for early voting.
A total of 11,129 of the 71,971 registered voters in the county cast their ballots during the early voting period, which took place Oct. 27 through Nov. 3 at the County Administration Building in Elkton.
Cecil County Director of Elections Debbie Towery said her staff was ready for the large turnout and she was not surprised.
“I expected about 10,000 to 11,000 early voters given the high passion and interest in this year’s presidential race,” Towery said Friday. “I think it’s great.”
Now, she and her staff have turned their attention to the general election on Tuesday when polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. at each of the county’s 19 polling places.
“We’ve already shifted voting equipment to the polling places,” Towery said, adding
that a few people will work over the weekend and finish preparations Monday.
The Maryland State Election Board reported Friday that statewide early voting numbers had nearly doubled from four years ago, achieving a record turnout statewide of 22 percent.
A total of 5,212 Republicans cast ballots during the eight days of early voting in Cecil County, compared to 4,144 Democrats and 1,773 other voters.
The total number of registered Republicans has increased by 2,946 since 2012, while the number of registered Democrats has decreased by 2,043 in that same period in Cecil County.
Towery also attributes some of the higher early voting numbers to the fact that this is the first year voters have been able to register and vote on the same day during early voting.
“Same-day registration is not allowed on Election Day,” she noted.
Towery’s office has received requests for 2,200 absentee ballots, but she said some of those people have been removed from that list because they decided to vote early instead.
Speculating on what impact, if any, this higher than usual early voting totals may have on Election Day, Towery said, “I hope our lines will be more manageable.”
The allure of the deeply partisan presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump has surely helped draw in the record number of voters.
It will be interesting to see the effect of the campaign on Cecil County’s growing number of Republican voters, who backed Trump with 7,557 primary votes but also gave more than 4,000 votes to candidates like John Kasich and Ted Cruz.
Cecil County was also one of the few Maryland counties to back U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with a slight edge over the future nominee Hillary Clinton.
Voters will also have choices in Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green candidate Jill Stein for president.
In the House of Representatives, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, of Baltimore County, is opposed by Democrat Joe Werner, of Harford County, and Libertarian Matt Beers, of Cecil County, in the District 1 race.
Finally, in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski, voters will choose from Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Republican State Delegate Kathy Szeliga and Green Party candidate Margaret Flowers.
The Chesapeake Inn is seeking to improve its current valet parking lot, seen here, with one that would eventually be self-pay.
Nearly 16 percent of registered voters participated in early voting last week, a county record.