Early voting for the primary election starts Thursday, June 12, and runs through June 19, giving voters plenty of time to cast their ballots even before the June 24 election day.
The St. Mary’s County Board of Elections is not expecting a high turnout in this primary, as there are few races to be decided by voters, and the primary was moved up this year from September to June.
Early voting will be held in Room 14 of the Potomac Building at the governmental center campus in Leonardtown from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., from June 12 to 19.
For the first time since 1966, the state’s primaries are in June rather than in September. Maryland law was changed in 2011 to move up the primary date to comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. The primary election for the 2016 presidential election year will be in April.
There have been very few requests for absentee ballots in St. Mary’s County and not a lot of new voter registrations, said Susan Julian, deputy supervisor of the county board of elections. “There’s just been no interest,” she said. She said she expected turnout to be “lighter than usual.”
In the 2012 presidential election, elections supervisor Wendy Adkins said 11 percent (7,096) of St. Mary’s County voters took advantage of early voting at the Potomac Building.
Overall turnout rates in the primary for nonpresidential election years in St. Mary’s has been around 30 percent in recent years.
Democrats and Republicans will choose a candidate to become the next Maryland governor in this primary. “The governor’s race is very important,” Julian said, and it should attract voters’ attention.
In St. Mary’s, voters in northern St. Mary’s County will choose a Republican candidate for state delegate. Del. John F. Wood (D) is retiring this year after more than 27 years on the job. Only Republican voters living within the boundaries of the 29A district can select among Bryan “Puff” Barthelme, Thomas “Tommy” McKay and Matt Morgan.
There are 11,993 registered Republicans in District 29A in St. Mary’s. The district runs from the county line to Sotterley Road and Hollywood Road and the town of Leonardtown.
The Republican victor will see Democrat Daniel A.M. Slade in the November general election.
All Republican voters in St. Mary’s can vote for a candidate for state senate between Larry Jarboe, Cindy Jones and Steve Waugh. The winner will be on the ballot in November against incumbent Sen. Roy Dyson (D-St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles).
All Republican voters in St. Mary’s County can choose a candidate among Mark Kenneth Arness, Chris Chaffee and Tom Potter to oppose Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in November.
Democrats and Republicans will also choose between seven and nine members of their central committees in the primary.
Independent voters will only be able to vote in a single school board contest in the primary: for District 1 among Randy Darnowsky, John Alonzo Gaskin and Rita Weaver. The two candidates who get the most votes go on to the general election. As of June 4, after the deadline ended to register for the primary, there are 69,656 total registered voters in St. Mary’s County. Among them are 27,493 Republicans (39 percent), 27,083 Democrats (39 percent) and 14,090 independents (20 percent).
Voter turnout in the primary election in St. Mary’s four years ago was 29 percent, which included early voting. In the 2006 primary election in St. Mary’s County, the turnout was 32 percent. Turnout was higher in presidential election years.