County Comment: Early voting a first for county

County Comment
Early voting a first for county
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

Early voting will be possible in the primary and general elections for the first time in Maryland in 2010.
Kaye Robucci, acting Director of the Washington County Board of Elections says that Maryland voters endorsed Early Voting in the 2008 General Election. The concept offers a central location for residents who wish to cast ballots prior to the Primary Election, Tuesday September 14th, and before General Election day, November 2nd...
Anyone wishing to take advantage of the option may do so from September 3-9, except for Sunday, September 5th, and October 22-28, except Sunday October 24th. The polling place will be open from 10am until 8pm each day.
The location for early voting in Washington County is 128 West Washington Street, Hagerstown, in the former PNC Bank building.
"The location will be open on Labor Day," Robucci said, "and we would love for people to come out and vote on that day."
"Early voting is conducted in 31 states," she said. "It allows people additional time to cast votes, but does not always increase voter turnout.
"No-excuse" absentee ballots will be offered for the first time this year.
"People can request an absentee ballot and do not have to give a reason," Robucci said.
Touch-screen machines will continue to be used this year. The machines have been in use in Maryland since 2004, and Robucci says they have been very reliable.
"If anyone wants a paper ballot, they can request an absentee ballot," which would be counted on the Thursday after the primary or general election, Robucci said. Absentee ballots are available by calling the Board of Elections at 240-313-2050, or online at www.elections.state.md.us/voting/absentee.html. On election days, polls will be open for both elections from 7am until 8pm.
Deadline to register, or make any name, address or party affiliation change for the primary was Tuesday, August 24th, but those not voting in the primary may register and vote in the General Election. That registration deadline is October 12th. The Elections Board office will be open until 9pm on that day.
Voter registration materials are available at all state agencies, at Post Office
branches, the Elections office or on-line at www.washco-md.net/election/elect1.html.
Sample ballots were to be mailed to all registered voters the week of August 23rd, Robucci said.
All 50 polling places in the County are accessible to people who have disabilities. Some locations will utilize alternate entrances, so voters should watch for directional signs at the polling place.
Robucci advised voters in District 17-1 that due to construction at the Washington County Library; voting will be held at Bester Elementary School, in the Gymnasium.