As the 2012 presidential campaign soldiers on toward its final days, no one seems at a loss for an opinion on the outcome.

Since 2010 in Maryland, we don't have to wait until the first Tuesday in November to vote. Early voting centers — in Carroll County, it's the Westminster Senior Center, 125 Stoner Ave. — are now open. Hours are Sunday, Oct. 28, noon to 6 p.m.; and also 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 through Thursday, Nov. 1.

As divisive as the presidential contest, there are the seven contentious statewide questions on the ballot on everything from the "Congressional Districting Plan" to the "Civil Marriage Protection Act" to the "Gaming Expansion Referendum." All of the questions may be found at the State Board of Elections website http://www.elections.state.md.us.

Nationally, the race between Democrat President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, appears to be coming down to the wire, with many national polls indicating the two are in a statistical tie.


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Our country has seen its share of close elections. In 1800, for instance, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr had 73 electoral votes each, but the House of Representatives chose Jefferson to lead the country.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams received fewer electoral votes and fewer popular votes than his opponent Andrew Jackson — but Adams won the election when the House of Representatives favored him by six state votes.

Rutherford B Hayes beat Samuel J. Tilden in 1876 by just one electoral vote, despite having lost the popular vote. It was a contentious victory because the electoral votes of four states were disputed, until eventually awarded to Hayes.

In 1880, James Garfield and Winfield Hancock had the closet election in U.S. history, with only 9,464 votes between them in the popular vote. Garfield won enough states, however, to gain a hefty majority of the Electoral College.

Incumbent Grover Cleveland won a narrow lead over his Republican opponent in 1888, with some 100,000 votes in the popular vote — but lost the election because Benjamin Harrison led the Electoral College.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon with less than 0.2 percent of the popular vote, but won the Electoral College by a much wider margin, 303 to 219.

And most recently, in 2000, Al Gore received 50,999,897 votes compared to 50,456,002 for George W. Bush, according to figures from the Federal Election Commission — but lost in the Electoral College.

This election for president could be one of the closest in our nation's history, and every vote is important. Whether you vote early or wait until the traditional Election Day on Nov. 6, please do vote. One way or the other, history will be made. Why not be a part of it?

When he is not studying all the ballot questions in Maryland, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.