Primary early voting closes, few use it

Maryland's first experience with early voting is now over, and it yielded a fairly small turnout.-- just about 77,000 voters out of a possible 3.2 million.

The many voters who didn't weigh in early on the primary election can do so on Tuesday. The State Elections Board published final figures this morning, and they show that yesterday, the final day of the weeklong early voting period, was by far the busiest with more than 18,000 casting ballots.

If the primary election draws its usual 30 percent voter turnout, early voting will account for about 8 percent of the ballots cast. Early voting researchers, including Paul Gronke at Reed College, say that seems low. States with established early voting systems typically see no less than 20 percent of ballots cast that way -- though primary election data is fairly unstudied.

Maryland election officials say the turnout was about what they expected. As we reported this morning in The Sun, early voting coincided with Labor Day weekend, the start of school and Rosh Hashana. High-profile early voters, including Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., publicized the system's debut.

One plus of the small turnout, says state elections administrator Linda Lamone, is that it gave polling judges a chance to hone their skills before what they expect to be the far busier early voting period that will precede the Nov. 2 general election.

More early voting stats after the jump.

Total number of early voters: 77,288

Biggest day: Thursday, with 18,081

Smallest day:Saturday, with 8,891

Early Democrats: 54,770 (about 2.8 percent of registered Dems)

Early Republicans: 21656 (about 2.4 percent of registered GOPers)

Talbot and Kent counties showed best turnout: nearly 7 percent voting early

Prince George's County wins by sheer numbers: 14,551

Washington County had lowest percentage early voting turnout: barely 1 percent

* Numbers provided by Board of Elections. Numbers do not include provisional or absentee ballots. Results will be counted the day of the primary election.

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