The first votes were cast in Maryland’s primary elections as early voting got underway Thursday.
Voters are selecting the Democratic and Republican nominees for offices including governor, Baltimore County executive, Baltimore state’s attorney and all 188 seats of the Maryland General Assembly.
In some jurisdictions, voters also are narrowing the field of nonpartisan school board candidates.
Early voting runs through June 21, with the regular primary election day on June 26.
As of 7:30 p.m., more than 31,000 Marylanders have cast ballots on the first day of early voting. This marks a 53 percent increase over 2014, when more than 20,000 Marylanders cast ballots during the first day of early voting.
Owings Mills resident James Allen said he was doing his civic duty in voting at the Randallstown Community Center in Baltimore County.
He cast his ballot in the Democratic gubernatorial primary for Rushern L. Baker III, the Prince George’s County executive.
“He seems like he’ll do a good job,” said Allen, 49.
He also voted for Vicki Almond for Baltimore County executive. Almond, a county councilwoman, is in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination. Allen said Almond’s story of being raised by a single mom and rising into politics was relatable.
Ronald Dupye, 66, also voted for Baker for governor at the Randallstown Community Center.
“He sounds real positive,” said Dupye, who lives in Pikesville. “He wants to do good things for the state.”
Baker’s chief rival in the gubernatorial primary, Ben Jealous, voted Thursday morning at the Roger “Pip” Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis. Jealous, the former leader of the national NAACP and a resident of Pasadena, distributed the teacher’s union sample ballots, which were shaped like apples.
In Randallstown, candidates and campaign volunteers swarmed the parking lot, with some teams erecting pop-up tents to provide shade from the sun. Volunteers approached drivers as they entered the parking lot, offering campaign literature through the car windows. Voters then walked past a sea of candidates in the parking lot.
Frederick Strickland had the thrill of voting for himself for the first time. He’s running for a seat on the local Democratic Party Central Committee.
“It was surreal, but it was a lot of fun,” Strickland said.
Stephen Kennedy, 70, came to an Annapolis early voting center primarily to show support for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan is unopposed in the Republican primary, but Kennedy likes him so much that he felt voting in the governor's race was the most important contest on the ballot.
"Regardless of his party, he's good for the state," Kennedy said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox and Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.