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Why Maryland Gubernatorial Candidates Have Turnout On The Brain

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Polls, campaigning, advertisements, mailers... the candidates for governor in the Maryland Democratic primary have done all of them. But the result is likely to come down to one thing: voter turnout.

As get-out-the-vote efforts are in full swing, the reason turnout may matter more in this primary as compared to others is simple, according to Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. "With moving the election from September to June, that makes the effort a little bit more challenging," he says.

Due to a federal ruling, Maryland had to move its primary date up, just like D.C. did. And when the District's hotly contested mayoral primary saw a very low turnout in April, the date switch was considered one of the reasons why. Because election officials are predicting only a 20 percent turnout on Tuesday in Maryland, Brown says every piece of literature his campaign puts out has the June 24 date on it to remind voters that's when they go to the polls.

If the turnout predictions are correct, Attorney General Doug Gansler says he'll be disappointed. "It is expected to be low, and I think that's a sad commentary on democracy," he says. "And I guarantee you the loudest people that will complain if we don't win will be the 80 percent who don't vote."

Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur believes her supporters will turn out regardless, but says she will never root for low turnout. "The right to vote has been one of the most precious things I have guarded my entire life," she says. "Turning 18 was my favorite birthday for being able to register to vote."

The last time both parties' gubernatorial primaries were contested was in 1994, and turnout was around 40 percent.

For more information, check out our Maryland Voter Guide at WAMU.org/vote.

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