Reporting Pat Warren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– After shutting down for two days to weather the storm, early voting polls reopened Wednesday morning with brand new hours designed to make up for lost time. Now only in its third year, elections officials think a record turnout could be set by Friday.
Political reporter Pat Warren has more.
Baltimore residents are among the thousands of Marylanders making their first stop of the day at the early voting polling place, and the day was just beginning.
“As of noon there were 20, almost 28,000 people who voted today,” Linda Lamone, supervisor of the Maryland Board of Elections, said.
Gov. Martin O’Malley brought his 10-year-old son Jack O’Malley to join the crowd of voters at the Public Safety Training Facility, formerly Pimlico Middle School. By noon, more than 800 people voted there.
“The electorate seems to be very enthusiastic, which of course makes me very happy because, if you’re going to put on an event, you want people to participate,” Lamone said.
Early voting appears to be influencing the numbers of people who vote, if not the outcome of the election.
“I got something in the newspaper, I marked my ballot so I could get in and get out,” Marlyn Seldman said.
“I think what you’re seeing is that more and more people are exercising that right to vote and doing it in a way that’s most convenient for themselves and their families as they run around taking care of kids and groceries and all the other things,” O’Malley said.
That was in evidence this weekend when the polls opened Saturday morning and the line in West Baltimore stretched a city block. Elections officials will be comparing 2012 to the years prior to early voting.
“Especially in a presidential election, we have so many more people participating in the election voting. It helps alleviate some of the stress on Election Day,” Lamone said.
The polls are open until 9 p.m. and reopen again at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Early voting has been extended through Friday to make up for two days lost during superstorm Sandy.