Early voting for the 2012 presidential primary elections begins Saturday, March 24.

In addition to Democrats and Republicans voting for their respective presidential nominees and delegates to the national convention, primary contests for Maryland's U.S. Senate and congressional seats, as well as local school board and Circuit Court judge races, will be decided.

The Prince George's CountyDistrict 1 Board of Education race, where one of the three candidates has dropped out of the race, presents a unique scenario where Laurel's school board representative could be chosen in the primary.

Normally, two candidates from each Board of Education district would advance to the general election. That will still happen in District 1, if remaining candidates Zabrina Epps, of Laurel, and David Murray, of Bowie, earn the most votes.


"Like" Laurel Leader's Facebook page

But if Mike McLaughlin, a Laurel resident who dropped out of the race too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, earns more votes than one or both of the other candidates, the race will effectively be decided.

According to Board of Elections officials, because McLaughlin has dropped out, his name would not appear on the general election ballot, even if he finishes in the top two. But if he does finish in the top two, the third-place finisher would not be able to fill his spot on the ballot and would need to run a successful write-in campaign to win the seat in the general election.

Laurel voters, with the exception of some residents of South Laurel, may also be surprised when they go to the polls to see they are no longer voting in Congressional District 5, represented by Democrat Steny Hoyer.

The new Congressional districts drawn by the state legislature last fall will have most Laurel residents voting in Congressional District 4, represented by Democrat Donna Edwards.

Maryland's official primary election day is Tuesday, April 3. Voters who did not participate in early voting or fill out an absentee ballot can show up at their assigned polling location between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Locations for early voting in Prince George's County

Early voting will take place Saturday, March 24 through Thursday, March 29. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday, March 25.

• Upper Marlboro Community Center

5400 Marlboro Race Track Road

Upper Marlboro

• College Park Community Center

5051 Pierce Avenue

College Park

• Bowie Library

15210 Annapolis Road

Bowie

• Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center

8001 Sheriff Road

Landover

• Oxon Hill Library

6200 Oxon Hill Road

Oxon Hill

Contact the county Board of Elections at 301-430-8020 or princegeorgescountymd.gov.