UPDATE: Turnout Ticks Up, Still Low in Prince George's
Slow going at the polls is the name of the game in Prince George's County so far today.
Update - 6:30 p.m. - Voter turnout ticked up slightly in the afternoon today, according to election officials. As of 3 p.m., the most recent county-wide numbers available, a total of 5.9 percent of the county's 536,458 registered voters had cast a ballot. That's up a bit from 11 a.m., when only 3.1 percent of county registered voters had cast ballots.
The updated turnout numbers are split between 26,843 Democratic and 4,005 Republican ballots cast.
Aside from the low turnout, voting has proceeded relatively smoothly throughout the county.
“It’s been pretty much eventful free, the system is working," said Merritt Cortez Joseph Hinton III, chief election judge working at the Hyattsville Public Library on Adelphi Road, polling place for Precinct 17-08. "Other than one machine being down, but when you have 11, one being down doesn’t really matter.”
The ease of voting freed residents minds to focus on their political allegiances.
Democratic voter Joel Carlson, 49, an aerospace consultant, said this of the primary:
"Not being a Republican, I just kind of sit back and enjoy the circus," said Carlson, who cast a ballot despite there not being a national level primary campaign in his party. "You still feel obligated to go and do your duty."
Original article below:
Voter turnout across Prince George's County has been light so far today. According to county election officials, as of 11 a.m. only 3.1 percent, or 16,702 of the county's 536,458 registered voters had cast ballots.
As of 11 a.m., 3.4 percent of the 417,179 county voters registered as Democrats have voted. Repbulican turnout is a tad better, with 4.6 percent of the county's 47,011 Republicans voting. Another 156 voters cast ballots in non-partisan races such as the school board.
"We pretty much opened on time and haven't had any real issues," said Daneen Banks, deputy adminstrator for the Prince George's County Board of Elections. "From what I've heard from the judges this morning, there aren't a lot of people in line."
Throughout the county, the story is the same: low turnout, but smooth sailing for voters.
Voters in Hyattsville didn't have to wait long at all to cast ballots this morning.
By midday in Laurel, voters continued to trickle in.
At the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, election judges said the turnout had been slow but steady throughout the day. Shortly before 2 p.m., the voter tally stood at 150 people.
“Some people said they didn’t even know it was the primary,” said Chief Election Judge Gabrielle Araiza.
Still, some voters said they were going to cast their ballots no matter what.
Lewanna Bazemore of Laurel said she was watching the District 1 Board of Education race closely. She said she had just been laid off from her job as a teacher in a Washington, D.C. public charter school, and wanted to be sure someone dedicated to education was elected.
“I’m looking for people who are looking to reduce class size and increase parental involvement,” she said. “I’m a dedicated voter. I always vote for the primary.”
At Laurel Elementary, 125 voters showed up by midday, a slow turnout so far, said Chief Election Judge Mike Loveless.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. This is slow,” he said, adding that Republicans made up 46 of the midday voter total. “We had some die-hards in here at 7 a.m.”
In College Park, by 10:40 a.m., 65 residents from precinct 21-08 cast their votes at Paint Branch Elementary School.
Forty percent of them were Republicans. Among them was University of Maryland student Maria Louzon. The 20-year-old junior government and politics major was excited to weigh in on an election for the first time.
"There's so much in America that needs to be changed," she said, citing the down economy and President Barack Obama's health care legislation as examples.
But for Democrat Mary Ayers, 54, the health care law is the main reason she supports the incumbent.
"People aren't going to the doctor because they don't have health care," she said on her walk to Paint Branch Elementary.
So, is the slow turnout affected by the county and the state's predominantly Democratic voter population not turning out for an election whose most prominent campaign is for the Republican presidential nomination? Not so, said Banks.
"I keep hearing people say this is a Republican primary election. It's not. It's just a primary election in Maryland," said Banks. "We have a Republican ballot, a Democratic ballot and we also have some school board elections up for vote."
Stay tuned as Patch covers the election throughout the day.