Contested school board race highlights primary election day

If you weren't one of the nearly 6,000 Howard County residents who voted early last week, Tuesday is your final opportunity to cast your ballot in the 2012 primary election.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

The ballot will include candidates for the following positions: U.S. president, U.S. senator from Maryland, congressional representative from Maryland District 2, 3 or 7 (depending on where you live in the county), Howard County Board of Education, judge of the Circuit Court from District 5 and delegates to the Republican or Democratic National Convention.

Republicans have the most to be excited about this primary season, as for the first time in recent history, Maryland voters will have a say in choosing the GOP presidential nominee.

Unlike in many past presidential election years, where the nominee was known before Maryland voters hit the polls, 2012 presents local Republicans with the opportunity to choose from four candidates still seeking the nomination: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Closer to home, the Howard County Board of Education race is hotly contested, with 14 candidates vying for one of the six spots in the general election. The nonpartisan race is the only one in which independent voters can have a say this primary.

Despite multiple GOP presidential candidates still seeking the nomination and the many candidates for school board, the 2012 primary is not expected to draw much enthusiasm from Howard voters. Guy Mickley, the county's Board of Elections director, said he expects primary turnout will be fairly low — between 25 and 30 percent.

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