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State Could See Record Number of Registered Voters

Maryland Registered Voters as of Aug. 31, 2004

Democratic 1,603,729
Republican 858,268
Green 6,729
Libertarian 1,726
Constitution 178
Unaffiliated 392,465
Other 28,050
Total 2,891,145
Source: Maryland State Board of Elections
By Joseph Bacchus
Capital News Service
Thursday, Oct. 7, 2004

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland could be headed toward a record number of registered voters, which could translate into an unusually high voter turnout come Nov. 2, state elections officials said this week.

"I think we're going to hit the 3 million voter registration mark in Maryland," said Mary Cramer Wagner, director of the State Board of Elections' voter registration division.

There were 2,891,145 registered voters in Maryland through Aug. 31, Wagner said. That includes 1,603,729 Democrats and 858,268 Republicans. She said numbers for September were not yet available, but the elections office expects high registration rates through the Oct. 12 deadline.

Registration has already surpassed 2000 figures, when the state had 2,719,636 registered voters. Of those, 2,036,455 actually showed up at the polls for a 75 percent turnout. Vice President Al Gore carried the state's 10 electoral votes, defeating then-Gov. George W. Bush 56 to 40 percent.

The elections board expects a Maryland voter turnout of perhaps as high as 75 percent to 80 percent for the upcoming Nov. 2 presidential election between President Bush and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Wagner said.

The highest voter turnout for Maryland was 82 percent of registered voters in 1992, also a presidential election year, she said.

According to Wagner, Maryland had 25,580 new voters registered in August 2000 before the last presidential election, and close to twice that many - 46,362 - in August 2004. She said she would not be surprised if the September 2004 number doubled the September 2000 number of 42,743.

If you keep doing the math - and consider the 86,603 new registrants in the first two weeks of October 2000 -- this October could be huge, she added.

Voter registration applications must be in to the state elections board, or any county election board, by 9 p.m. Oct 12. Applications postmarked by Oct. 12 will also be accepted.

Absentee ballot applications are due at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 if mailed, or 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 26 if faxed. The ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day, although mailed ballots may arrive later.

Eligible citizens may pick up voter registration applications at County Board of Elections offices, Division of Rehabilitation Services offices, local Department of Social Services offices, marriage license bureaus, Motor Vehicle Administration offices, Offices on Aging, post offices, public institutions of higher education, public libraries, the State Board of Elections and State Department of Health offices, as well as online at http://www.elections.state.md.us.

Voters with questions about registration, or any other voting matter, can go to the elections board Web site or call the toll-free number 1-800-222-8683.

Copyright 2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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