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Will An Early Maryland Primary Lead To Low Turnout?

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A woman casts her ballot at a polling place in Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.
Alex Brandon/AP
A woman casts her ballot at a polling place in Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.

The moving up of the primary to April is being blamed for low turnout in this week's D.C. primary election. In neighboring Maryland, the primary is earlier this year too, on June 24 instead of it's usual date in September, and some are wondering whether it too could suffer from low turnout.

Two members of the House of Delegates are running for governor and both believe the June date could mean lower turnout. Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel) thinks the primary should have been scheduled before Memorial Day, as the end of June will be in the middle of summer vacation plans for many state residents.

"I think that in the future the state is going to revisit this after they see the numbers. I think the numbers will be low," George says. "So, I hope people pay attention to all the early voting days, because if they are going away, they can vote early. And if they think they'll be away, they can get an absentee ballot. We now have 'no-excuse' absentee ballots in Maryland. So for any reason, you can ask for one and vote that way."

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) thinks lower turnout is a possibility too, but seems to embrace the challenge more.

"There's always a chance of [low turnout], because Maryland voters are so used to voting in their primaries in September. But that's why we're running such a strong grassroots campaign," Mizeur says. "Who turns out in the primaries is the excited electorate, and the Mizeur-Coates campaign is all about grassroots and engaging people power."

The primary was moved up in order ensure that overseas military members can receive absentee ballots in an allotted time before the general election, as mandated by the federal government.


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