Early vot­ing be­gins

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By PETER HECK pheck@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

PHOTO BY PETER HECK

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.

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