Early voting, which was approved through a constitutional amendment in 2008 with subsequent legislation passed by the General Assembly, was implemented in the 2010 election. Now each local jurisdiction has between one and five early voting sites determined by a county’s registered voter population. Local boards of elections spent a total of $2.6 million to operate early voting centers for the 2010 election and costs are expected to be the same this fall. A MarylandReporter.com article examines whether early voting has been effective in increasing voter turnout.
Since Maryland implemented early voting in 2010, a small percentage of the electorate has taken advantage of the six-day, pre-election period now afforded under law. Only 2.4% of eligible voters used early voting centers in the 2010 and 2012 primary elections and 6.3% in the 2010 general election, according to the State Board of Elections.
The percentage of early voters has steadily climbed among those voting — 9.6% in the 2010 primary, 11.7% in the 2010 general, and 13.4% in the 2012 primary — overall voter turnout decreased when compared to the 2006 and 2008 elections.
According to at least one political analyst, the bang is not worth the buck.
But those who sponsored the legislation say providing additional access to voters outweighs the costs, and the new program needs more time.
For the upcoming election, early voting centers will be open October 27 through November 1. More information can be found on the State Board of Elections website.
Additional coverage of this issue can be found in the CapitalGazette.com.