Early voting starts Thursday for Baltimore mayoral primary

Baltimore voters can begin casting ballots in the city's mayoral primary election Thursday, as the early-voting period begins.

The city's 369,651 registered voters will be able to go to the polls from Thursday through Saturday and again from Tuesday, Sept. 6, to Thursday, Sept. 8. The five city voting centers will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Candidates said they planned to visit the early voting sites Thursday as the first voters headed to the polls in the citywide races.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake planned to cast her ballot in Northwest Baltimore's police and fire training academy at 11 a.m.

Former city planning director Otis Rolley was slated to greet voters at the city's five early voting sites between noon and 2.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh and former Greater Board of Realtors vice president Joseph T. "Jody" Landers also said they planned to stop by polling places, but did not detail a specific itinerary.

Clerk of Court Frank M. Conaway Sr. announced he would make an "important announcement" at 1 p.m. in front of the War Memorial Building. He did not immediately respond to a request for more specifics.

Armstead B. Crawley Jones Sr., the election director for the city's Board of Elections, said he was expecting low voter turnout during the six-day early-voting period, which was mandated statewide in 2009 in an attempt to increase participation.

"I hope and wish for the best turnout," said Jones. "But from what I see, there's not a lot of motivation. I hate to say I'm looking for it to be low. I just want to encourage those citizens who are ready to come out and vote."

Early-voting turnout among city voters was about 7 percent for the gubernatorial primary in 2010, the first time the service was available, according to the election board. Turnout on primary election day jumped to about 23 percent. Jones did not have early-voting figures for last year's general election.

In 2007, the last mayoral election in the city, about 31 percent of the electorate turned out to vote in the primaries and 13 percent in the general election.

Up to 250 voting judges and 40 members of election board staff will supervise the five sites during this year's early voting.

This year's primary election is Sept. 13, when polls will be open at sites across the city from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The primary election results often determine the victor in heavily Democratic Baltimore.

Baltimore early-voting locations

Edmondson-Westside High School

501 Athol Ave. (rear entrance)

The League for People With Disabilities

1111 E. Cold Spring Lane

Moravia Park Drive Apartments

6050 Moravia Park Drive

Public Safety Training Center

3500 W. Northern Parkway (entrance on Manhattan Avenue)

St. Brigid's Parish Center

900 S. East Ave.

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