O'Malley cancels early voting on Tuesday, schedules makeup day

Gov. Martin O’Malley canceled early voting on Tuesday and added a makeup day on Friday.

With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard, O'Malley now has canceled voting on Monday and Tuesday, but added only one makeup day.

State elections administrator Linda Lamone said it would not be possible to extend early voting beyond Friday, because poll workers need time to transition to regular voting on Nov. 6.

“Everyone needs to remember that there is still Election Day, next Tuesday, that’s available to everybody to vote,” Lamone said. “We really need to have time to get ready.”

Early voting began on Saturday and was scheduled originally to end on Thursday. O’Malley issued executive orders to cancel voting on Monday and Tuesday.

The cancellations came after voting centers saw large crowds and long lines over the weekend. More than 134,000 voters, or 3.63 percent of the electorate, cast ballots on Saturday and Sunday.

Lamone attributed the rush to a combination of factors: Growing familiarity with early voting, which the state adopted for the 2010 elections; a closely contested presidential race; and voters eager to cast their ballots before the storm hit.

In the face of the larger-than-anticipated crowds, some centers added polling books — computers that check in registered voters, and communicate with the state server to verify that they haven’t already voted.

But Lamone said the number of polling books that each center’s computer hub may accommodate is limited, and she would look to expand the capacity for future elections — “a lesson learned,” she said.

She said it was too early to say what effect, if any, the storm might have on turnout.

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