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Editorial: Don't get shut out of Maryland primary; register to vote

If you're planning to make your voice heard in the presidential primary election in Maryland and you haven't yet registered, today, April 5, is the day — the final day, that is — to do so.

Early in the process, it seemed like Maryland might not have much of a voice in helping choose the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate. Now, the state could have a voice in both.

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Maryland's primary is Tuesday, April 26. Early voting will take place from Thursday, April 14, through Thursday, April 21.

Wins by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders since mid-March in the Democratic race mean he's not going away just yet, even though Hillary Clinton maintains a big advantage in the delegate count. Primaries in Maryland and other East Coast states Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island on April 26 could wrap up the race in Clinton's favor or keep Sanders hanging around.

Obviously, the Republican side is anything but decided. It appears Donald Trump won't be able to lock up the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination at the Republican National Convention, so Maryland's 38 delegates up for grabs could be quite important. Maryland's delegates are split up by congressional districts rather than being a "winner-take-all" delegate state, so Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich may be seeking to steal a few here and there to stave off Trump and get to a brokered convention (although, oddly, if it does get that far, state rules dictate all delegates must support Maryland's overall primary winner at the convention).

However, you only get to vote if you're registered. And the deadline to do that is 9 p.m. today. April 5 is also the last chance to update an address, request an alternate polling place and change party affiliation.

That last one might be important for some Carroll Democrats and independents, many of whom were encouraged to register as Republicans for the local primary elections in 2014, to have a voice in the county commissioners race in particular. The only truly local race in this primary is for the nonpartisan Board of Education, and with current board President Jim Doolan announcing last week that he will no longer seek re-election, the remaining four candidates on the ballot will advance to November's general election, rending the BOE primary moot.

Carroll also has more than 23,400 voters registered as unaffiliated, which means they'll be shut out of Maryland's closed primary system if they don't choose a party. In such a contentious presidential primary season, we expect they might want to have a voice.

You can easily register, update your address or change your party affiliation by visiting the Maryland Board of Elections website at www.elections.state.md.us and clicking "Voter Registration" in the navigation bar (you may also confirm you are registered here too). Paper voter registration applications must be hand-delivered by 9 p.m. tonight, April 5, to the Carroll County Board of Elections, at 300 S. Center St., Room 212, in Westminster or mailed with an April 5 postmark.

Maryland may finally have a voice in this year's presidential election. Don't be shut out by not registering to vote.

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