Campaign signs outside the early voting center in Silver Spring Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Maryland’s Democratic and Republican primaries take place Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters this year will be selecting candidates for Congress, governor, General Assembly and county offices. Here are five things to know as you head to the polls.

1. Look up your polling place and view your sample ballot – Registered voters can find their district’s polling place by putting their names, birthdates and ZIP codes into the voter lookup page on the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website. This year, there are 42 different Democratic primary ballot styles and 31 different types of Republican ballots in Montgomery County that are based on a person’s location. Because the state has closed primaries, which mean only registered members of a party can vote in that party’s primary, unaffiliated voters can only vote in the at-large and District 3 Board of Education races in which candidates are not affiliated with a specific party.

2. Learn about the candidates –Democratic voters in Montgomery County will be faced with a bevy of candidates when they enter the polling booth. In addition to the nine candidates running for the party’s gubernatorial nomination, there are also six Democratic candidates running for the county’s highest office—county executive—and 33 Democrats hoping to win one of four seats in the County Council at-large race. Voters trying to differentiate between the candidates can find out more information about them in Bethesda Beat’s 2018 election guide, which includes biographical information about the candidates. The county executive section includes the candidates’ responses to several issue-related questions.

3. The weather should be nice – Voters don’t need to worry about weather impacting a trip to the polls. The National Weather Service predicts a sunny day with a high near 81 degrees and a low dropping to around 65 at night. There’s a chance of showers late Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning, but that shouldn’t impact travel to the polls, which close at 8 p.m.

4. Turnout could be historic for a primary election – Nearly double the number of Montgomery County voters cast ballots during the week-long early voting period this month compared to early voting tallies in the last gubernatorial primary in 2014. If that trend continues, there may be crowded conditions at polling places due to a motivated electorate. Or it could also mean some voters won’t be heading to the polls on Tuesday because they have already voted. Political observers have attributed the high early voting turnout in the county to the competitive races for county executive and County Council. Due to term limits, four council incumbents and County Executive Ike Leggett must step down, leaving those offices without incumbents seeking re-election and an influx of candidates vying to win them.

5. The county’s Democratic primary will likely decide the general election winners – Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the county by a 3-to-1 ratio and no county or General Assembly-elected office in Montgomery County is currently held by a Republican. This means that the results from Tuesday’s Democratic primary will likely determine the winners in the general election.

The statewide race for governor is an exception. Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a 2-to-1 ratio, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan scored an upset victory in 2014 and has garnered high popularity ratings during his first term. Hogan is seen as the favorite to win re-election despite the Democratic Party’s dominance in registered voters.