BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Early voting is beginning in the Maryland primary.

Voting sites open Thursday across the state at about 80 different locations. They are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through next Thursday.

RELATED: 2018 Maryland Primary Guide

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan isn’t facing a primary unchallenged. There are more than half a dozen candidates on the ballot for the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan, along with other local races.

FULL LIST: 2018 Early Voting Centers

Early voting is a good indicator of voter interest in the election in general, and specifically it tells candidates where they really need to get to work.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, 2,000 people had already cast ballots in Baltimore. Experts are expecting a 20-30 percent turnout statewide. 

University of Baltimore professor John T. Willis says the top reason for early voting in convenience.

“We have 80 hours of early voting, and 13 hours on election day, there’s really no excuse not to take advantage of the opportunity,” he added.

Early voter turnout tells something about the way voters are feeling. 2016 was a record breaker.

“Oh yes, particularly in the general election,” Willis said. “We had an extraordinary number, 870,000 voters voted early. I think it took everybody by surprise.”

Baltimore Elections Director Armstead Jones says they’re ready for what comes.

“There have been some challenges through the election process, but all of those things have been worked out and I’m sure if there are more to come, the state will handle it.”

People coming in exercising their right to vote for the next seven days, and the state will share information on a daily basis.

Candidates are being chosen for the state’s eight U.S. House seats and one of Maryland’s U.S. Senate seats. All 188 seats in the General Assembly will be decided this year.

Attorney General Brian Frosh and Comptroller Peter Franchot are unchallenged in the primary. Their Republican opponents, Craig Wolf and Anjali Phukan, also are unchallenged.

The primary election is June 26.

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