Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday he will extend the hours for early voting this week to help make up for the time lost because of storm Sandy.

The state's 46 early voting locations will be open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Early voting originally was to be offered for shorter hours and only through Thursday. O'Malley's changes add 19 hours of voting time, nearly making up for the 20 hours lost when he closed the polls Monday and Tuesday amid heavy wind and rain.

Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator at the State Board of Elections, said adding the time will "create some challenges" for election officials as they prepare for voting at the roughly 1,600 polling sites open on Election Day, Nov. 6.

"The local boards are pulling this together really quickly," he said.

Far more Marylanders have taken advantage of early voting this year than in 2010, the first election it was offered. On Saturday and Sunday, the first two days of early voting this year, about 130,000 people cast ballots. In 2010, only 60,000 had voted early after the first two days.

Election officials said the lengthy statewide ballot — there are seven referendum questions this year — and the looming storm drew voters out early this year. Many who cast their ballots over the weekend waited in long lines.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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Election guide

For information about state ballot questions and candidates for Congress, go to baltimoresun.com/electionguide2012

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