By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Early voting is underway in Maryland. For the next seven days, voters are casting ballots in the 2014 election, most notably the governor’s race.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports on the early turnout in Baltimore.

If you got to the Baltimore City Public Safety Training Facility at 10 a.m. when the polls opened, you were already in for a wait.

Some voters arrived as long as an hour before the poll opened to be assured of getting in and out as quickly as possible, and they didn’t seem to mind the wait.

“I thought I was going to get in and out, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see so many people here this morning early voting,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

In Baltimore City, Albertus Grant had a special mission.

“If I come out early maybe I can encourage other people to come out early too. That’s the reason I came out early,” Grant said.

“We have some important decisions to make, and a lot of people like to complain, but I consider if you don’t vote you shouldn’t complain,” the mayor said.

In Anne Arundel County, Republican for governor Larry Hogan greeted voters.

Jack Fitzwater believes casting a  ballot is more important than the outcome.

“Let’s get 75 or 80 percent out and then we’ll know whether it’s right or wrong, we voted; we tried,” he said.

Prince George’s County voters got a visit from Democrat for governor Anthony Brown, whose daughter cast her very first ballot.

“It’s my first General Election, so I was very excited to vote,” Rebecca Brown said.

Voters can use any center in their county. Early voting centers are open in each county in the state, 59 statewide. Most counties have one each, but heavily populated Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have eight centers each.

Voters have various reasons for coming out early.

“I work 12 to 8:30, and the polls are normally closed when I get off work,” one early voter said.

“The future of Maryland is at stake, so I feel it’s really important to get out here and vote,” said Stacy Olaf, Anne Arundel County.

“I was a unit judge for a couple cycles,” said Pat Harris, of Howard County.

“My wife was check-in for a couple cycles, and we consider it an important duty for citizens,” said Ed Harris, of Howard County.

The candidates agree.

“Someone exercising their vote is less about the candidates than their responsibility to participate in the Democratic process,” Brown said.

“We have 12 days to get it done, and there’s no excuse for anybody to sitting at home and not making it out here. Every single vote counts,” Hogan said.

Nearly 3.5 million voters cast ballots in early voting for the June primary. That’s about 4 percent of the state’s eligible voters.

The Board of Elections will post the total number of early voters at the end  of each day but will not tally the results until the polls close Election Day.

The early voting centers are open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. now through next Thursday. For a complete guide to early voting, click here.

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