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Laurel voters head to polls for primary election

As expected, voter turnout for the primaries Tuesday is low, especially in Laurel. Bond Mill Elementary School is usually an active precinct, but since opening its doors at 7 a.m., the only line was in the morning.

"It's shocking that it's so light," said Laurel resident Tom Dernoga, former Prince George's County Council president. "Bond Mill has always been busy ... it's one of the biggest and busiest polls in Laurel."

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Poll counts from Laurel precincts show that more Democrats are turning out than Republicans.

"The ratio between Democrats and Republicans is 4 to 1 among voters here in Bond Mill," said Susan Sumner, chief judge of the fifth precinct in District 21 in Laurel.

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Dernoga said he is seeing more voters who are over 55 years old. However, the ages of voters in other Laurel precincts, such as the Robert J. DiPietro Community Center and Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, vary among young adults to seniors.

"It's been a mixed group of voters who turned out today," said Claudette Philpot, a community center election volunteer and Laurel resident.

Philpot said that many voters who have come to the community center brought their children along.

"A lot of them teach their kids how to vote so that they can be ready when it's their time to vote," Philpot said.

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Despite the low voter turnout in Laurel precincts, campaigners, volunteers and workers are excited to be at the precincts helping out their community.

"We are a congenial group," said Doug Wenk, a Democrat and first-time chief judge of the first precinct in District 32, who was working at the polls at Maryland City Elementary. "What makes the day better is being around people that you can get along with."

Few contested races

Only about 2 percent of local voters took advantage of early voting, which was held June 12 to 19. With so few contested races, and what experts say is the usual apathy found in a non-presidential election cycle, there's a good chance Laurel's voting locations will continue to have light turnout.

Among incumbents running for re-election with no primary challenger are Democratic District 21 state Sen. Jim Rosapepe and Democratic Dels. Ben Barnes, Barbara Frush and Joseline Peña-Melnyk. The three face one Republican challenger, Katherine Butcher, in the general election.

Laurel's District 1 County Councilwoman, Mary Lehman, a Democrat, also faces no challenger in her bid for re-election.

In state District 23, incumbent Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters faces Bowie resident David Grogan in the Democratic primary; no Republicans are running for the seat. In District 23A, which includes some of South Laurel, incumbent Democratic Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith also is without a challenger in the primary, and faces Shukoor Ahmed, an Independent from Bowie, in the general election.

Laurel residents in Howard County will be choosing from among 13 School Board candidates in the non-partisan race; eight will advance to the general election.

Check back for updates.

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