Early Voting Starts Today, October 23

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Early voting began today October 23, 2014 and will run through next Thursday, October 30. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Early voting centers — there are one to eight in every county in Maryland, depending on population — will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through the following Thursday, Oct. 30. All registered voters can cast ballots at any early voting center in their home county. They will use the same touch-screen machines found in polls on Election Day.

This will be the first election since the General Assembly expanded early voting during the 2013 session.  SB 279 (Ch. 157, Acts of 2013) expanded the number of locations based on the number of registered voters in each county.  This bill was enacted to expand access to voting and address lines at early voting locations during the previous election.

Marylanders first approved early voting in a referendum in 2008. Maryland held its first early voting in the 2010 election. That year, early voting during the primary accounted for just under 10 percent of turnout. In the general election the proportion grew to almost 12 percent, or 219,624 voters.

Participation was higher in the 2012 presidential election, in which 430,547 cast their votes early, amounting to almost 16 percent of votes counted, even though Hurricane Sandy shut down the polls for two days. Gov. Martin O’Malley added a day and extended hours to make up for the interruption.