The 2012 election has dominated national headlines for months if not years, and beginning Saturday, Howard County residents will have the chance to vote in this year's primary.
Early voting for the 2012 presidential primary elections begins Saturday, March 24 and runs through Thursday, March 29.
"It's quick, easy and convenient," Howard County Board of Elections director Guy Mickley said about the early voting process.
While Mickley expects turnout in the primary election overall will be fairly low, somewhere between 25 and 30 percent, he estimates early voting numbers will be higher than they were in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, the first time early voting was offered in a Maryland election.
"I do think the numbers for early voting are going to increase because it's a presidential election and it's the second time around," Mickley said.
Early voting may also be an attractive option for parents who take their children out of town during the school system's spring break week, during which Maryland's official primary election day falls.
New this election, Mickley noted, is that one of the six early voting days will be a Sunday. Early voting sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sunday, March 25 when they will be open from noon to 6 p.m.
Howard County has three early voting sites: the Florence Bain Senior Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia; the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City; and Ridgely's Run Community Center, 8400 Mission Road, Jessup.
Maryland's official primary election day is Tuesday, April 3. Voters who did not participate in early voting or fill out an absentee ballot can show up to their assigned polling location between 7 a.m. to 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.