Voting in Carroll County has never been more accessible than it is during the 2018 gubernatorial primary election early voting period.

That’s because, for the first time, Carroll County has two early voting sites — the Westminster Senior and Community Center and the South Carroll Swim Club. The South Carroll site was added after nearly 20,000 Carroll voters cast ballots early during the 2016 presidential election, often creating long lines and wait times at the Westminster polling place.


We’re a fast-paced society and, sadly, one that often doesn’t exercise our right to vote and choose our leaders at the rate you would hope for. Add a long line to cast a ballot on one particular day, and many people may be discouraged from waiting to vote.

Already, mid-term elections like this year’s typically don’t bring as many people as presidential elections, and primary elections — which, in Maryland, means you can only cast ballots in partisan races such as governor and county commissioner — typically see even less.

Early voting for Maryland's gubernatorial primary election began Thursday, June 14, and for the first time, Carroll County has two early voting centers where ballots can be cast.

During the 2014 primaries, roughly 1 in 4 registered voters in Carroll County cast ballots. Interest is generally higher in presidential elections, even though there are a number of local races decided during gubernatorial elections. Those offices are typically the ones that have the most significant effect on our lives, setting state and local tax rates and deciding how those tax dollars are then spent on schools, roads and public safety.

In Carroll County, the primary serves as the “real” election for many of these local races, which have been almost exclusively won by members of the Republican party in the general elections. The Republican primary will determine the county commissioner in districts 1 and 5, as there are no Democratic candidates filed. In District 4, the lone Democrat will move on to the general election to face the winner of a four-way race in the Republican primary.

Needless to say, the primary election is an important one, especially here in Carroll.

Even with a 25 percent turnout, though, voting on Election Day can occasionally be a pain. About half of the county’s workforce commutes outside of the county to their job. That means they must either vote early in the morning or deal with the after-work and after-dinner crowds at the polls on a Tuesday night.

Voters at the South Carroll Swim Club speak about their experience at Carroll County’s new early voting site. The senior center in Westminster was the lone early voting spot until the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial primary election.

Early voting allows residents to cast ballots at a time that may be more convenient for them.

It also doesn’t matter where you live in the county if you cast an early ballot. So if you live in Keymar but work in Westminster, you may cast a vote there during your lunch break. If you live in Gamber but commute to Frederick, perhaps it’s more convenient to stop at the South Carroll Swim Club in Winfield on the way home to vote than to wait until June 26.

On the first day of early voting, there were no crowds, no lines, no waits. Why not take advantage of that and cast a ballot during the early voting period, which continues through Thursday, June 21? Polls are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day at both the South Carroll Swim Club and Westminster Senior and Community Center. If you want to wait for Election Day, the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 26.

Regardless of who you vote for, don’t waste your opportunity to have a voice in local politics. With two early voting locations, there’s no excuse not to exercise your right to vote.