By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Early voting centers in Maryland are seeing record turnouts.

Since Thursday, more than double the number of people have voted early, compared to the midterms in 2014.

State election officials say nearly 170,000 people in Maryland have voted so far, and overall, there has been a nationwide trend of increased early voting.

Regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs, voting is something everyone is urged to do.

And with early voting, there’s no excuse.

“I’m always out supporting candidates and volunteering with a number of organizations, so voting early is good for me because once I go in and vote, I am able to put my support into helping to get more people out to the polls,” said Joanne Antwoine, who voted early.

Across the state, there have been a number of rallies and marches focused on voter turnout.

The Baltimore County executive candidates are also making a final push, reminding constituents how important their vote truly is.

“Encourage people, you never know what’s going to happen on Election Day, so given the eight days you have with early voting and the eight sites across the county, there really is no reason not to get out and get registered early,” Johnny Olszewski said.

“Anything that creates an opportunity to vote is a good thing,” Al Redmer said. “It’s our constitutional right, something we should not take for granted, so anything that makes it easier for folks to vote.”

There are 79 early voting centers in Maryland.

Governor Larry Hogan and gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous are both impressed by the strong turnout.

“Early voting right now is at presidential levels,” Jealous said. “We’ve never seen this in the midterms, so it really speaks to the fact that everybody is ready to move forward.”

“We’re very excited about it, it seems to grow every two years, so more people take advantage of it,” Hogan said. “It’s more interesting to see if it’s more people total, or it’s more people voting early, so we are very pleased with the turnout.”

Early voting is one thing all candidates can agree on.

Early voting lasts through Thursday. Polls open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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