Early voting begins
CHESTERTOWN — The 2016 general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8. But voters don’t need to wait to fill out their ballots — in fact, they can vote today.
Early voting opens in Maryland today and runs through Thursday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. each day, including Saturday and Sunday. In Kent County, early voting is at the Chestertown branch of the Kent County Public Library, 408 High St. The Maryland Board of Elections advises that the best days for early voters to avoid delays are Oct. 29 and 30.
The presidential election is for many voters the main attraction. Party slates for president and vice president include Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, Republicans Donald Trump and Michael Pence, Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka and Libertarians Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. There are also a number of independent and write-in candidates.
A number of federal, state and local offices are also being filled this year. Republican Kathy Szeliga, Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Green Party candidate Margaret Flowers are running to fill the U.S Senate seat vacated by the retirement of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democat.
Also on the ballot is the 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Candidates are incumbent Republican Andy Harris, Democratic challenger Joe Werner and Libertarian Joe Beers.
Locally, four candidates are seeking to fill two openings on the Kent County Board of Education. Candidates are Steve Atkinson, Joe Goetz, Ellsworth Tolliver and incumbent Bryan Williams. School board elections are nonpartisan.
The Nov. 8 ballot also includes one statewide question, concerning a proposed amendment to the Maryland Constitution. The amendment would require the governor to fill vacancies in the offices of comptroller or attorney general by appointing a member of the same party as the official being replaced. Also, if the vacancy occurs early in the official’s term, the amendment requires the office to be filled by special election.
A local ballot question proposed by the Kent County Commissioners, asking voters if they favor a tax increase to support the current configuration of public schools, will not appear on the ballot. The state board of elections ruled that Kent County doesn’t have the constitutional authority to place questions on the ballot.
Voter registration for the coming election closed Oct. 18. As of that date, there were 13,034 registered voters in Kent County, according to figures provided by Cheemoandia Blake, director of elections. Of those, 6,106, or 46 percent, registered as Democrats and 4,744, or 36 percent, were Republicans. Unaffiliated voters totaled 1,988 or 9 percent. There were also 23 Green Party members, 58 Libertarians and 115 registered as members of other parties.
There were 670 new registrations in the county since this year’s primary election, April 26. Of those, 271 were Democrats, 219 Republicans and 171 unaffiliated. There were also three Green Party members, five Libertarians and one other party.
Almost a third of the new voters were in the two Chestertown precincts. The 213 new Chestertown voters included 105 Democrats, 54 Republicans, 51 unaffiliated, two Greens and one Libertarian.
Polling places, including early voting sites for other jurisdictions, and additional election-related dates and information are available at www. elections. mar yland. gov/ voting/ early_ voting. html. Or call the Kent County Board of Elections at 410778-0038.
Voters who cannot vote on Election Day or during early voting may still cast a vote by absentee ballot. Call the election office for information regarding an absentee ballot. Voters can request to receive their absentee ballot by mail or fax.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be sent by mail or fax is Nov. 1. The deadline to request an absentee ballot download from the state board of elections website is Nov. 4.
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 8. To find your local polling place, see next week’s Kent County News or contact the county election office.
For more information on the election, contact the Maryland State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-VOTE (8683) or visit www.elections.maryland.gov.
A voting machine is on display at the Kent County Board of Elections earlier this year. Voters will cast their ballots on machines like this one in early voting, starting Oct. 27, and in the Nov. 8 general election.