Many of the more than 140,000 Harford County Republicans and Democrats eligible to have a say about who will represent their parties on the fall ballot will have their final opportunity to weigh in Tuesday on Primary Election Day.
At stake in Harford County are party nominations for many county offices, as well as state legislative seats and the area’s two congressional seats.
“That should be a huge incentive [to vote], because that’s who is making the decisions for your every day life,” Dale Livingston, deputy director of the Harford County Board of Elections, said of the local and state races.
Elected officials in Washington do make decisions that affect millions of people, but “the local politicians, and the ones that are down in Annapolis are making decisions that are going to affect your every single day life,” she said.
Most local primary contests involve the Republican Party, which is Harford’s majority party and holds all but one local office.
The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information how and where to vote, visit the Harford County Board of Elections website at harfordvotes.info.
The Board of Elections website also contains information about absentee voting. The deadline to apply for a mailed ballot, however, passed earlier this week and the deadline to receive one online is today. You can still apply and receive a ballot in person at the election board’s office in Forest Hill up to and including Election Day.
Absentee ballots must be received in person at the Board of Elections Office at 133 Industry Lane in Forest Hill by 8 p.m. on Tuesday or postmarked June 26, if mailed, according to the board’s website. Absentee ballots will not be accepted at polling places.
There are no changes in voting procedures from the general election in 2016. At the polling precincts, eligible voters will receive a paper ballot to mark and will be escorted to a polling station to fill in out. Ballots are placed into a secure container by each voter before he or she leaves the station.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan does not have primary opposition, but several Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination to succeed him this fall.
Congressmen Andy Harris, a Republican, and C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, a Democrat, are running for re-election in the first and second districts, respectively, and both have contested primaries, as do those in the opposite parties hoping to run against them in November.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin is up for re-election, as are State Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh, all Democrats. Cardin has primary opponents, as do the Republicans entered in his race. There are no primaries for comptroller or attorney general, as only the incumbents and one Republican each filed for those offices.
County Executive Barry Glassman is seeking a second term and has a Republican primary opponent in current County Councilman Mike Perrone. Only one Democrat has filed.
There is a two-way Republican primary race for county council president and a two-way Democratic primary. The seat is open with the retirement of incumbent Richard Slutzky.
There are open council seats in districts A, C and E, with two or more Republicans running for each seat. Incumbent Republicans are seeking re-election in districts B, D and F, with contested primaries in D and F.
There is a four-way Republican race for the state’s attorney nomination to replace retiring State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly. A single Democrat has filed.
There are no contested primaries for sheriff, clerk of the court or register of wills. All three incumbent officeholders, however, all Republicans, will have Democratic challengers in the general election.
The District 34B House of Delegates seat covering greater Bel Air has drawn four Republicans, including incumbent Susan McComas. One Democrat filed.
The District 34A House of Delegates two seats have drawn contested primaries among Democrats and Republicans, who currently hold one seat each.
There is an open seat in House of Delegates District 7, where two Republican incumbents are among a field of 13 seeking nominations for the district’s three seats. Democrats don’t have a contested primary.
There are no primaries for the District 7 and District 35 State Senate seats, held by Republicans, and no GOP primary for the District 34 Senate seat; however, the Democrats have two candidates seeking their nomination to oppose incumbent Bob Cassilly.
Voters in both parties will also select their state central committee members, who will lead the respective local campaigns leading up to the Nov. 6 general election.
Early voting ends
Thursday evening marked the close of early voting for the primary, which began eight days earlier on June 14.
At the four early voting sites in Harford, 9,561 voters checked in over the eight days, 6.7 percent of those eligible to vote in the primary, according to local and state board of elections figures. There were 2,012 voting in Harford on the final day Thursday.
Four years ago, there were 6,262 early votes cast in Harford County during the primary election.
Livingston bemoaned the low turnout for early voting, as compared to the number of eligible voters. Challenges include that this is a gubernatorial election, rather than a presidential race that typically draws more voters.
The time of year is a factor, too, as people are on summer vacation and Father’s Day fell in the midst of the early-voting period.
“Who wants to go and vote on Father’s Day weekend?” Livingston noted.
Father’s Day fell on Sunday, which had the lowest daily turnout at 390, according to elections board figures.
Livingston said traffic had been slow the final day at the McFaul Activities Center in Bel Air, typically the busiest early-voting site. There had been 200 ballots cast as of the noon report and 556 — 230 Democrats and 326 Republicans — as of 4 p.m. When the polling place closed at 8 p.m., 956 voters had signed in at McFaul.
Livingston said that number should be around 500 by noon during a gubernatorial race and about 1,000 in a presidential race.
“McFaul is usually steadily busy every day,” she said. “This time around, you can’t say that.”
That location still topped each of the other three in Aberdeen, Edgewood and Jarrettsville by a wide margin, as 1,056 voters signed in at the other three combined on the final day of early voting.