REISTERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Hurricane Sandy was already making its presence felt in Maryland politics on Sunday, forcing the cancellation of early voting for at least a day and scuttling a U.S. Senate debate.
Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that early voting would be scrapped for Monday. The Democratic governor said a decision on whether to resume early voting on Tuesday would be made later, and he hoped the missed days would be made up.
“We would anticipate at this point rescheduling what would have been Monday’s early voting for Friday, I do believe,” O’Malley said at a news conference at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.
Early voting began Saturday. It had been scheduled to run through Thursday.
Despite a steady rain Sunday, more than 300 people voted early at an assisted living facility in Berlin, near Ocean City. More than 1,000 people had voted on Saturday, waiting an hour and 40 minutes during the busiest time, said Kay Hickman, the president of Maryland’s Worcester County Board of Elections. The polling place had so many voters that poll workers ran out of “I Voted” stickers, and at least some voters were casting ballots early because of the rain.
“They come in and say, `I’m voting now because we’re getting ready to evacuate,”‘ said Hickman, 78, who was wearing an American flag jacket as well as flag earrings and a flag in the shape of a bow.
Collee Zabor, 63, a resident of Ocean Pines, went to vote on Sunday afternoon with her husband. They had planned to vote on Monday, but “Monday’s not looking so good,” Zabor said.
Meanwhile, a debate between Maryland U.S. Senate candidates that had been scheduled for Tuesday at Salisbury University’s Institute for Public Affairs and Engagement has been canceled.
Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin, Republican Dan Bongino and independent candidate Rob Sobhani were scheduled to take part, as well as Libertarian Dean Ahmand and unaffiliated candidate Ed Tinus.
Cardin, Bongino, Sobhani and Ahmad held their first and only debate so far last week on WOLB-AM.
In a busy year for ballot questions in Maryland, the hurricane also prompted opponents of expanding gambling to cancel a rally they had organized. The rally had been scheduled to include Comptroller Peter Franchot.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)