Despite storm, officials say polling places will be ready for Election Day

While some Marylanders cope with flooding and others wait for the lights to come back on, elections officials said polls everywhere should be ready in time for Election Day.

In Somerset County, where 85 percent of homes lost power, dozens of roads were shut down and hundreds of residents were displaced by Sandy, election director Joanna Emely said "we're on schedule" for the vote Tuesday.

Poll workers reopened the Eastern Shore county's early-voting center in Princess Anne on Wednesday morning, and officials planned to deliver voting machines to Somerset's 15 Election Day polling places Friday

"We had two days out of the office, but we're fine now," Emely said. "As far as we know, we're good to go."

In Garrett County, where snow was complicating efforts to restore electricity, officials used generators to reopen the early-voting center in Oakland.

Ross Goldstein, the deputy state elections administrator, said that "every place should be open on Tuesday."

"In Garrett County, they still have a lot of power issues to work through, and so we're monitoring that situation," he said. "But with cooperation from the governor's offices and emergency managers, I know there's already plans being put in place to get generators out to the polling places."

The last day of early voting in Maryland is Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Through midafternoon Thursday, 267,874 Marylanders — or 7.25 percent of the state's eligible voters — had cast their ballots during four days of early voting.

That shattered the turnout of 219,801 set during six days in 2010, the state's first experience with early voting.

Early voting this year had been scheduled to run Sunday through Thursday. With Sandy bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard, Gov. Martin O'Malley canceled voting on Monday and Tuesday, but added another day and extended the hours the polls are open.

Elections officials said it is not possible to add more days because poll workers need time to prepare for the regular Election Day vote.

Also Thursday, Goldstein said a computer glitch had prevented 186 voters from being properly registered, but all have been notified and will be able to cast provisional ballots in the election.

Goldstein said a software problem had delayed roughly 380 online voter registrations. Workers have now entered those registrations in the state system, he said, but 186 were not entered in time to show up in the computer "pollbooks" that election officials use to identify voters when they arrive at polling places to cast their ballot.

Goldstein said letters have been sent to all of the voters affected to explain what happened, inform them that they are now registered and that they will have to cast a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is used when poll workers cannot find a voter's name on the rolls at an election site. The ballot is counted after elections officials verify the voter's registration.

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