County Board of Elections Ready as Early Voting Begins

County Board of Elections Ready as Early Voting Begins

President Jim Shalleck said Thursday the board expects 30 percent of primary election votes will be cast early

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Campaign signs positioned outside the early voting center in downtown Silver Spring

Andrew Metcalf

As early voting kicked off at 10 a.m. Thursday, Montgomery County Board of Elections President Jim Shalleck said officials are prepared for the influx of voters who want to cast their ballots before the June 26 primary.

Shalleck was touring the early voting center at the Silver Spring Civic Center, which he said regularly tops the state in the number of votes cast at such centers.

He noted that despite former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin dropping out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, notices were still posted in the voting booths that said a vote cast for her former running mate Kevin Kamenetz would count as vote for Ervin and her running mate Marisol Johnson. Kamenetz died unexpectedly May 10.

Ervin backed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in the Democratic primary for governor after dropping out Wednesday.

The notice posted inside early voting booths in Silver Spring Thursday morning about Valerie Ervin. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Montgomery County registered voters can cast ballots at any of 11 early voting sites, even if the site is outside of their home district, through June 21. The county’s Board of Elections website includes a wait time estimate for the early voting centers. Voters can cast ballots from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Results from early voting will be the first returns released after polls close on primary election day.

Montgomery County Board of Elections President Jim Shalleck inside the Silver Spring early voting center Thursday morning.

Shalleck said one of the challenges for election judges during early voting will be making sure each voter gets the correct ballot for the voter’s district. He said there are 77 different ballots in Montgomery County, which are based on the offices up for election in each district and whether they are registered as a Republican, Democrat or unaffiliated. Maryland has closed primaries so unaffiliated voters can’t vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.

“We have to have all the different ones at all the early voting sites,” Shalleck said. “We need to make sure each person gets the ballot that’s applicable to where they live.”

As in 2016, the state is using paper ballots for the primary election. Voters will fill out their choices, then insert the ballots into a digital scanner so they can be electronically counted. The ballots are then stored in a locked box beneath each scanner.

Ballot scanners. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Shalleck said the system was designed to provide a paper trail in case of the need for a recount.

On Thursday, there were 19 election judges and poll workers at the Silver Spring center.

Outside the Civic Center was a sea of political signs. This year county Democratic primary voters will be choosing from more than 100 candidates running for Congress, governor, the General Assembly, county executive, County Council and other local offices. In most of the Republican primary races one candidate or less is running.

[Related – Bethesda Beat’s Primary Election Guide]

In the County Council at-large race, Democratic voters will be asked to choose four candidates from a field of 33. On Thursday morning, one of the at-large candidates, former county recreation director Gabe Albornoz, could be seen mulling where to place one of his signs among the dozens posted outside the early voting center.

“It’s the final stretch,” Albornoz said to Bethesda Beat before he placed his sign.

Democratic at-large candidate Gabe Albornoz before he placed a sign among the others at the Silver Spring Civic Center Thursday. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

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