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As early voting begins, lower voter turnout anticipated in Arundel

The primary election officially began Thursday with early voting, but Anne Arundel County elections officials are expecting low turnout for both early voting and traditional election day voting.

Anne Arundel's turnout "might be the lowest ever" at 18 percent to 22 percent, said Joseph A. Torre III, the county's elections director. Typical turnout is in the 28 percent to 33 percent range.

Torre based his prediction on the low volume of requests for absentee ballots and the relatively few people who registered as new voters or changed their affiliation in the runup to the primaries.

"The activity is just eerily slow," Torre said.

Anne Arundel had 146,844 registered Democratic voters and 123,165 registered Republican voters as of April.

Elections officials have had fewer than 1,000 requests for absentee ballots for the primary. About one-quarter of those requests came from nursing homes, where elections officials go in person to help residents request their absentee ballots, Torre said. (The deadline for absentee ballot requests is Tuesday if requesting a ballot by mail or fax; Friday if downloading the ballot from the state's website.)

The elections office also has seen a number of experienced election judges drop out for this primary election. Elections judges gave reasons such as vacations and the end of the year for public schools, which is less than a week before June 24, primary election day, Torre said.

Torre did a direct mail campaign to attract new judges and reduced the number of judges who check in voters with electronic pollbooks to cover all of the precincts.

Voters who do not want to wait until the June 24 primary election day can vote early. Early voting began Thursday and runs through June 19 at five locations in Anne Arundel County:

•West County Library, 1325 Annapolis Road in Odenton.

•North County Library, 1010 Eastway in Annapolis.

•Severna Park Library, 45 W. McKinsey Road in Severna Park.

•Pip Moyer Recreation Center, 273 Hilltop Lane in Annapolis.

•Edgewater Library, 25 Stepneys Lane in Edgewater.

All Anne Arundel early voting locations will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. In Anne Arundel, there's been significant attention to the Republican primary for county executive between incumbent Laura Neuman and Del. Steve Schuh.

There also are several contested primaries in both parties for seats on the County Council and in the House of Delegates. Both parties also will select nominees for governor, with three Democrats and four Republicans running.

On June 24, all polling places will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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