Republicans maintain a slight, but growing registration advantage over Democrats in Harford County, and more residents have registered than in past elections, as the country gears up for the presidential election Nov. 6.
The county's board of elections counted 63,296 Democrats and 67,255 Republicans registered as of Tuesday, the last day for people to register in order to vote in the November election. The final registration numbers are expected to be available this Monday, Dale Livingston, the county's deputy elections director, said.
The county had a total of 159,165 registered voters as of Tuesday. That is more than 149,049 voters who were registered in the 2010 gubernatorial election, which left the county just shy of the 150,000 voters needed to qualify for two early-voting sites instead of one in this year's election.
The county had 61,920 registered Democrats and 62,274 registered Republicans in 2010.
The board of elections also counted 26,577 unaffiliated voters, 646 Libertarians and 313 Green party members, Livingston said.
Her office stayed very busy Tuesday, as last-minute voter applications poured in, but the director said the rush was not out of the ordinary.
"It's the nature of a presidential election," she said. "There is a heightened interest in a presidential general election."
This time, however, "there may be more of a heightened interest that may be driven by the [ballot] questions," she added.
Harford voters will have seven state ballot questions to consider, including hot topics like allowing same-sex marriage, the "Dream Act" and table games in casinos. There will also be seven county charter amendments on the ballot.
Early voting will take place at a new location this year, the McFaul Center on West MacPhail Road in Bel Air. Residents can vote there between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Sundays, when hours are from noon to 6 p.m. The center was used in the primary election earlier this year, but the Bel Air Library was the county's early voting site in 2010.
Livingston said last year the board hoped to avoid traffic issues that came with holding early voting at the library.
At the MacFaul Center, however, voters will be asked to park at the nearby Motor Vehicle Administration building and take a shuttle to the voting site, she said.
The county is expecting 20,000 people to vote early and will have two shuttle buses available between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the days the early voting site is open.
Only 35 visitor spaces are available at the MacFaul Center during daytime hours, so the facility can serve its regular attendees. After 4:30 p.m., people can park at the center, Livingston said.
"This will be a lot easier in that there is more parking at the MVA and there won't be the type of traffic [there was at the Bel Air library]," she said. "We would really like voters to park down at the MVA, and the Sheriff's Office is helping us out with traffic and things like that."
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 9 p.m. Oct. 30 by mail or 11:59 p.m. by fax or e-mail. The deadline for write-in candidates to file is Oct. 31.