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Early Voting Begins In Maryland

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Voters in Maryland head to the polls in the first step toward deciding who Maryland’s next governor will be. But there is concern that the primary could see a record-low voter turnout.

Christie Ileto has more on what that could mean come election time.

Campaign posters flood the sidewalks, while candidates post up outside a Columbia polling location. But inside:

“‘Where’s the line? Where’s the line?’ Because the last time I was here, there were long lines,” said C. Vernon Gray.

Thursday is the first of eight days of early voting in Maryland.

Democrats are picking a candidate for attorney general, and all members of the State House and Senate are up for election, along with local races.

“We came out because of the teachers vote,” said Bruce Lindbald.

Others were lured to the polls to avoid crowds later on. But why does the foot traffic appear slow?

“I think if it was a better day that I think we’d have more people,” said May A. Beale.

Because of the soggy, rainy weather on the first day of early voting, there’s been a lot of concern about voter turnout.

“We have a lot of undecided voters,” said professor Matthew Crenson.

Weather may not be the only deterrent. Hopkins political science professor Matthew Crenson says not everyone has narrowed down who they support.

“This is a way to look over the candidates who belong to your side and decide who you like,” he said. “People who don’t win in the primary can’t run in the general, and so you eliminate them.”

Historically, voters don’t turn out early for primaries.

In 2010, almost 25 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the primary. Only 2.5 percent did so early. The 2012 primary drew about 19 percent of voters. About 2.4 percent voted early.

“The fact that we have eight days, there’s really no excuse for folks not to get out,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.

Ileto: “Will more people show up on the eighth day?”

Crenson: “I doubt it. I don’t sense that there’s very much enthusiasm about this election.

Early voting lasts through June 19. The hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and you can vote at any early voting center in the city or county where you live.

The primary is set for June 24. It’s early this year to give military and others overseas time to get their ballots for the general election.

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