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Months of hype over Republican presidential hopefuls comes to a conclusion today for Maryland voters, and the results will also set the stage for challengers in our new congressional districts, as well as decide which Board of Education candidates will move on the General Election in November.

Today's Primary Election gives Maryland Republican voters a greater voice in deciding their party's presidential candidate than we have seen in many years. Mitt Romney holds a commanding lead over Rick Santorum coming into today's primaries in Maryland, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. But Santorum could get a lift if he can capture wins today and keep up the momentum leading in to the April 24 primaries that include heavyweights New York and Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania.

On congressional districts, this will be the first election where Carroll voters will have new choices as the county has been split between the 1st and 8th districts.

In the 1st District, incumbent Republican Andy Harris is running unopposed. On the Democratic side, three candidates are challenging for the right to move on to the General Election.

In the 8th District, incumbent Democrat Chris Van Hollen has one challenger. Four candidates are facing off in the district for the right to advance on the Republican side.

In the Senate, incumbent Ben Cardin has eight Democratic challengers in the primary. On the Republican side, 10 candidates are seeking to gain enough votes to move on to the General Election.

Carroll voters will also narrow the field of candidates for Board of Education.

Turnout in the Primary Election is generally lower than in the General Election, even in years when there is a presidential race. But with the Republican nomination for president still up in the air, the new congressional districts and the number of candidates vying for a seat on the Board of Education, voters in Carroll have plenty of reasons to head to the polls today.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

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