Robert Holcomb, also a chief election judge at Swansfield Elementary, said "we expected a light turnout." A total of 35 people had been there in the first 45 minutes.

"Howard County is a majority Democratic county, and the president election is not an issue because Obama's running unopposed," he said. "According to the media, the Republican race is over, so there's no strong issue to bring people out."

The trickle of voters at multiple voting locations largely said they came out of civic duty, not due to specific races.

"I always come to vote," John Adams, a Columbia resident, said outside of Swansfield.

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Steven Jones and his wife, Janice, said they had come to Wilde Lake High School shortly after 8 a.m. to beat the crowds they thought would be coming later.

"We never missed an election," Steven said. "We're not going to start now."

Only 15 people had voted at the high school in its first hour open.

Some election officials attributed the light turnout, in part, to the county's early voting period. Nearly 6,000 voters, or about 3.24 percent of eligible voters, came out in late March to three early voting sites in Columbia, Ellicott City and Jessup.

A few of those voting today said they had come out for specific races.

At Wilde Lake, John Harmon said he was there specifically to support county school board candidate David Gertler. The Republican presidential primary race also was important to him, he said. He voted for Mitt Romney.

"It's kind of cool that Maryland has a say in the election this time," Harmon said.

Meanwhile, Gertler spent the afternoon at Mt. Hebron High School, where a few voters echoed concern that so few were turning out to the polls.

"It's my right to vote," said Sherry Fulkoski, of Ellicott City. "People should be here, people should be voting. This is their lives they're voting for."

Newt Hetrick, an Ellicott City Republican, came to Mt. Hebron to get "the right Republican front runner who can beat the standing president.

"(Mitt) Romney has the best shot, but I like (Rick) Santorum," Hetrick said. "With him, what you see is what you get. He's a good man, but I'm not sure he can carry the middle-of-the-line vote."

He declined to say who got his vote.

At Glenelg, Republican Karen Herriotts said she came out to vote because there are certain people she wanted to see elected. She voted for Newt Gingrich for president.

In the school board race, Herriotts chose only to vote for incumbent Janet Siddiqui, who she met and spoke with at the Howard County fair a few years ago.

"She has some of the same views I have," she said.

Siddiqui also drew the support of Eunice Boyd, of Columbia, who voted at Swansfield in the late afternoon.