Voters in Level, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen speak at the polls on Election Day on why voting is so important to Americans. (Nicole Munchel/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

With more than 16,500 early voters and the highest number of registered voters in Harford County's history, polling locations had large turnouts Tuesday for the 2012 presidential election and tradition held with the county going for the Republican, Mitt Romney, with 58 percent compared to 39 percent for President Barack Obama.

Yet, despite appearances of crowded polling places, the percentage of those who turned out may still not be what it was four years ago.

This year, 119,444 votes out of 159,968 registered were cast early or on Election Day, a 74.67 percent turnout. The first two absentee ballot canvasses Thursday brought the total voting to 123,732, or 77.3 percent.

Harford's turnout for the 2008 presidential election was 82.67 percent, when 123,710 people voted out of 149,651 registered. Those totals include all votes counted from the polls and absentees.


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More absentee and provisional ballots from Tuesday are still left to be counted — Nov. 14 and 16 — but they will do little other than change the total number of votes cast. Volunteers counted 4,281 absentee ballots Thursday. Results from Tuesday's count did not alter any of the results from Tuesday.

In 2008, 5,196 absentee ballots were counted the first day, 2,864 the second for international voters and 1,203 provisional ballots were counted.

Harford Elections Director Kevin Keene called the turnout "pretty good," but said it he doubted it will reach 2008's percentage. Numerically, however, more people voted in Harford this time, he noted. Total registration was 10,000 higher this year.

Harford, a typically conservative county, picked the Republican candidate for all contested offices on the ballot with the exception of incumbent Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in District 2.

Ruppersberger, who won the county precincts in his district with 53 percent, and fellow District 1 Congressman Andy Harris, 70 percent, were the only candidates the majority of Harford chose that also won the entire state.

Nearly 37 percent of Harford County voters chose Republican Dan Bongino over Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin, who earned 34 percent of the vote.

State ballot questions

When it came to controversial state ballot questions, the county, again, voted against the questions and against the majority who voted in the state.

Question 6, which legalizes same-sex marriage, Question 7, which expands gambling in Maryland, and Question 4, the so-called Dream Act, were all voted down in Harford, but approved by the majority of the state.

About 56 percent of county voters were against Question 6.

The measure, which will allow couples of the same-sex to marry beginning Jan. 1, was approved statewide with 51.9 percent of the vote.

Question 7 will allow the state to build a sixth casino in Prince George's County and table games, such as poker, will be allowed at all locations. The permitted number of slot machines will also increase from 15,000 to 16,500.

The county voted against the measure at a 53-47 percent margin, while the state approved it at 52-48.

The sixth casino also had to be approved by voters in Prince George's county in addition to the state.

Harford voted down Question 4 with 59 percent against it. The majority of the state voted it in with 58 percent.

In what is commonly known as the Dream Act, some children of undocumented immigrants will be allowed to pay in-state tuition at Maryland colleges and universities. The students will be required to attend at least three years at a high school in state and graduate or earn a GED. Students' parents will also have to prove they have filed state tax returns during those years.