Primary Report: Voters Stayed Home
Early results show less than 12 percent of registered Howard County voters made it to the polls today.
UPDATE: 10:30 p.m.
"Disappointing" was the word at polling stations across Howard County Tuesday.
Low voter turnout was on the minds of candidates and canvassers alike, as the last few voters turned up to cast their votes.
By 10 p.m. at the Howard County Board of Elections, Deputy Director Guy Mickley said that about 20,800 voters had turned out on primary day. Howard County has about 176,600 registered voters.
About 2.6 percent of voters -- 4,628 people -- voted early.
"I worry," said Sandra French, a candidate for Howard County Board of Education, that because there weren't many contested races, people aren't voting for local elections such as the Orphans' Court and the Board of Education
"But those are the most important races," she said, " The local ones."
Chris Frew, who works for Tech USA, a scientific staffing agency, shared French's concern.
"We're bringing innovation and business to Maryland," he said, he wants local graduates to be able to take advantage of jobs in the sciences. "Howard County schools are great," he added, "But it's important to continue to improve. We can't be complacent."
Howard County was a recipient of the federal STEM grants, money designated for science, technology, engineering and math.
"It's a great opportunity," Frew said, "The Board needs to use that money wisely."
As of 9 p.m., official local participation numbers had not been released. But in one polling station after another, people lamented the seeming lack of enthusiasm.
The scene was the same in the morning; at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, about a dozen people trickled in and out of Ilchester Elementary School over the period of a half hour.
Outside of the school, a polling place for today's primary elections, three women passed out information on their candidates of choice for the Board of Education, U.S. Congress and Judge of the Orphans' Court.
Donna Sudbrook, president of the Ilchester Elementary School PTA, was passing out information on Frank Aquino, non-partisan, her Board of Education candidate of choice. But Sudbrook was concerned with issues beyond Howard County.
"My issue is local control of education versus state and federal mandates," she said. She was involved, she said, because she wanted to insure "the ability to make the best decisions at the lowest levels."
The U.S. Congressional race brought Barbara Nye out to Ilchester Tuesday morning. Nye handed out a glossy flyer for Jim Wilhelm, Republican candidate for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District.
"I'm excited to make a difference," she said. Nye's concerns were lower taxes, a balanced budget and "bringing common sense back to Washington."
One race that people are often less familiar with is the contest for the Orphans' Court judge. Sarita Payne Campbell, however, was handing out information for Democratic candidate Leslie Turner Smith.
The Orphans' Court is also known as the probate court. It supervises the handling of estates when people die. It also has jurisdiction over guardianship of minors.
Judges of the court handle the dispersion of assets among beneficiaries and heirs, and approve administrative accounts.
In addition to supporting her candidate, ideology brought Campbell to Ilchester. She has been a Howard County resident since she was in the 7th grade, but this was her first time canvassing for a candidate.
"It's important to vote and to have a voice," she said. "We really need to do our part, whatever it may be."
At 10 p.m., cars were lined up around the Board of Elections office, dropping off ballots from polling stations around the county.