With the combination of the presidential election and controversial referendum questions on the Nov. 6 ballot, the county's top election official is expecting a large turnout.

Early voting for the general election started Saturday at the Westminster Senior and Community Center, located at 125 Stoner Ave. Early voting continues today from noon to 6 p.m. and on Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters are encouraged to take advantage of the early voting option, said Gail Carter, director of the Carroll County Board of Elections. Carter expects about an 82 percent voter turnout, which is somewhat higher than past presidential elections. Early voting could help voters avoid long lines on election day, she said.

Voters will make their selection for president, U.S. Senator and U.S. House Representative for either District 1 or 8, Maryland Court of Appeals judge and Maryland Court of Special Appeals at-large judge on the state and federal levels. Locally, voters will choose two members for the Carroll County Board of Education out of four candidates.

The board of education candidates in the nonpartisan election are Ginger DiMaggio, Jim Doolan, Cynthia L. Foley and Jennifer A. Seidel. Those elected to the board will serve one four-year term.

For the most up-to-date information on the 2012 General Election, visit the Carroll County Times' website at http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/elections/2012/.

With 25 years of election experience under her belt, Carter breaks down the process of voting in Maryland and offers tips to those heading into the voting booth.

1. The first step for a voter is to find out where their polling place is. Voters can find where their polling places are by typing in their names or addresses in the the Maryland State Board of Elections website, http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/where.html.

2. At the polling place, the election judge will ask voters a series of questions to verify the person's identity, Carter said. Voters are not required to provide a driver's license or voter identification card when they go to vote, she said.

3. Election judges will escort voters to the electronic voting system. If voters have questions while they are voting, they can ask for help, Carter said. A family member can help as long as they sign an affidavit stating that they assisted the voter. The other option is to have the two chief judges, one Democrat and one Republican, assist them, Carter said.

Here's a breakdown of the constitutional amendments and referendum questions and what exactly your vote will mean:

Question 1: Constitutional amendment 1

Requires judges of the Orphans' Court for Prince George's County to be admitted to practice law in Maryland and to be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar.

For the Constitutional Amendment means that you support the additional requirements.

Against the Constitutional Amendment means that you don't support the additional requirements.

Question 2: Constitutional amendment 2

Requires judges of the Orphans' Court for Baltimore County to be admitted to practice law in Maryland and to be a member in good standing of the Maryland Bar.

For the Constitutional Amendment means that you support the additional requirements.

Against the Constitutional Amendment means that you don't support the additional requirements.

Question 3: Constitutional amendment 3

Changes the point at which an elected official charged with certain crimes is automatically suspended or removed from office. Under existing law, an elected official who is convicted or pleads no contest is suspended and is removed only when the conviction becomes final. Under the amended law, an elected official is suspended when found guilty and is removed when the conviction becomes final or when the elected official pleads guilty or no contest.

For the Constitutional Amendment means that you support suspending an elected official when they are found guilty and removing them when the conviction becomes final or when the elected official pleads guilty or no contest.

Against the Constitutional Amendment means that you support suspending an elected official who is convicted or pleads no contest and removing the official only when the conviction becomes final.

Question 4: DREAM Act

Establishes that individuals, including undocumented immigrants, are eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at community colleges in Maryland, provided the student meets certain conditions relating to attendance and graduation from a Maryland high school, filing of income taxes, intent to apply for permanent residency, and registration with the selective service system (if required); makes such students eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at a four-year public college or university if the student has first completed 60 credit hours or graduated from a community college in Maryland; provides that students qualifying for in-state tuition rates by this method will not be counted as in-state students for purposes of counting undergraduate enrollment; and extends the time in which honorably discharged veterans may qualify for in-state tuition rates.

For the Referred Law means that you agree that undocumented immigrants should be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges in Maryland, as long as they meet the requirements.

Against the Referred Law means that you disagree that undocumented immigrants should be eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges in Maryland, as long as they meet the requirements.

Question 5: Redistricting

Establishes the boundaries for the State's eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

For the Referred Law means that you support the congressional districts in the map voted on by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley in October 2011.

Against the Referred Law means that you do not support the congressional districts in the map voted on by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley in October 2011 and want the boundaries to be redrawn.

Question 6: Same-sex marriage

Establishes that Maryland's civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

For the Referred Law means that you are for gay and lesbian couples' right to be married in Maryland.

Against the Referred Law means that you are against gay and lesbian couples' right to be married in Maryland.

Question 7: Expanded gambling

Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education to authorize video lottery operation licensees to operate "table games" as defined by law; to increase from 15,000 to 16,500 the maximum number of video lottery terminals that may be operated in the State; and to increase from 5 to 6 the maximum number of video lottery operation licenses that may be awarded in the State and allow a video lottery facility to operate in Prince George's County?

For the Referred Law means that you support the addition of table games and increasing the number of slot machines, as well as a sixth casino license being issued. (The sixth license will only be issued, however, if Prince George's County voters vote in favor of Question 7.)

Against the Referred Law means you do not support the addition table games, increasing in the number of slot machines and a sixth casino license being issued.

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