- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
From election district lines to polling places, voters will see several changes when Calvert County hits the polls for the 2014 primary election June 24.
One major change is the date of the primary itself. During the 2011 Maryland General Assembly, legislators voted to move the date of the primary statewide from September to June, with the general election still set to happen in November.
The change was enacted to comply with federal regulations requiring ballots to be mailed to overseas and military voters 45 days prior to each election. There was not enough time in between the old primary election date and the general election to follow the regulation, said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy for election policy for the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s) sponsored the House bill as the minority leader at the time.
The change in the election date is positive for people in the military but poses a challenge for voter engagement and turnout, O’Donnell said this week. More people are on vacation in June than in September, and the change in date means people aren’t used to the new date yet.
“People are not typically engaged at the end of June with political elections,” he said.
Calvert County Republican Central Committee Chairwoman Ella Ennis said the earlier primary will give those running in the general election more time to campaign.
“I think that having an early primary is a positive thing,” she said.
Not only will the election be several months earlier, but about 75 percent of Calvert County voters will vote at different polling stations than in the past because of redistricting, said Mary DePelteau, office specialist for the Calvert County Board of Elections.
Two designated polling places have changed, as well. Calvert Middle School will be used as a polling place instead of the Elks Lodge. Huntingtown Elementary will be used instead of the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department.
Changes in polling stations were mailed to all voters who will vote in a different place, DePelteau said. Sample ballots will also be mailed within the next few weeks, she said.
Another change, a change in how county commissioner candidates file to run for office, doesn’t affect the voting process, DePelteau said. This year, candidates were required to file as either an at-large candidate or for one of the county’s three districts. Regardless of which district voters live in, they can vote for candidates in all districts. For instance, even if a candidate filed to run for District 1, someone living within District 3 can vote for the candidate.
Calvert County Democratic Central Committee Chairman Cliff Savoy said the change in how commissioners file for election is a positive one. Rather than candidates running against the entire pool, they have a handful of specific opponents during the primary election.
Another change at the state level affects voters, as well. Required redistricting of the state legislative districts after the 2010 census means some voters in the northern part of the county reside in District 27B, which is now shared with Prince George’s County.
Candidates running in 27B include Michael A. Jackson (D), LaRhonda R. Owens (D), Jacqueline Steele McCall (D), Toni Jarboe-Duley (R) and Philip A. Parenti (R), all of Prince George’s County.
District 29C is shared with a portion of St. Mary’s County. Incumbent O’Donnell is running unopposed for the Republican nomination in the primary and will face unopposed Democratic nominee Len Zuza in the general election.
District 27C is solely within Calvert, where incumbent Del. Mark Fisher (R) runs unopposed for the GOP primary seat and will face unopposed Democratic candidate and former delegate Sue Kullen in the general election.
State Senate districts for Calvert remain unchanged in this election, along with the way residents vote for other local races, including those for school board and sheriff.
The deadline to register to vote is 9 p.m. June 3. Go to https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/onlinevoterregistration to find forms and more details.
The county’s 23 polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 24, with early voting June 12 to 19 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. View early voting information at www.elections.maryland.gov/voting/early_voting.html.