Early voting in Maryland came to a conclusion Thursday, and while we won’t know how people voted during the eight-day window until after polls close Tuesday night, what we do know is that turnout was impressive in Carroll and throughout Maryland.

Approximately 14 percent, or 16,929 of the 120,916 active voters in Carroll County cast ballots early. While that was not quite as many Carroll voters who participated in early voting during the 2016 presidential election, for a midterm, when turnout is traditionally lower, it’s an impressive number.


Carroll County's early voting numbers pacing higher than last gubernatorial race, rival 2016 election turnout

As the final day of early voting approaches, Carroll County citizens have been coming out in higher numbers than in previous years.

Hopefully, those impressive numbers will continue on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Based on early voting results, it seems that, regardless of party, voters across the county, state and country are energized and want to ensure their voices are heard.

And they should. Voting is a right in the United States, but it is also a privilege. Even if you are disgusted by the current state of American politics, we should count our blessings that we have the ability and opportunity to choose our leaders at the ballot box. The citizens of many other countries across the globe aren’t so lucky.

Yet, every election year, tens of thousands of eligible voters in Carroll County, and millions across the nation, throw away that privilege by choosing to sit on the sidelines and not cast ballots. According to a Pew Research study released in the summer of 2016, among 35 developed countries — those with advanced economies and heavy use of technology — the United States ranks 31st. Thirty-first of 35! That’s sad.

Considering as much time as Americans spend reading, watching and talking about politics, it doesn’t seem to make sense that so many citizens choose not to vote.

Why is this the case? Some experts argue that it could be a combination of voters who feel disenfranchised by the two-party system or apathetic about politics in general; plus the frequency of elections, which can lead to fatigue. Others may not think they have enough time to get educated about the number of candidates and issues on the ballot. And certainly, quite a few think their single vote doesn’t matter.

To the last point, a Virginia race for House of Delegates in 2017 was recounted several times, once thought to have been decided by just a single vote, before the challenger conceded to the incumbent prior to another recount. That seat also determined which party held the majority in the Virginia House. So it’s not unthinkable that a single vote could be extremely significant.

Regarding getting educated on the candidates, voters have never had access to more information about political candidates right at their fingertips than they do right now. VoteSmart.org has boatloads of data on congressional candidates, including tools that can help you choose your “political soulmate” by answering a few simple questions.

For state and local races, the Baltimore Sun Media Group Election Guide is available with candidate responses to key issues in those races. Profiles of Carroll County candidates can also be located on our website carrollcountytimes.com/election, and video profiles and recordings of local candidate forums can be found at carrollmediacenter.org.

And for voters who feel disenfranchised, trust us, nothing is going to change if you sit on your couch on Election Day. You must be the change.

Please, whether Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated, get up, go to the polls and make your voice heard on Election Day, Tuesday. Vote.