The pool of voters registered for tomorrow's primary elections in Maryland will be more Republican, more suburban and smaller than the pool registered for primary day four years ago.
The number of registered voters has shrunk by more than 33,000 voters since 1986. The largest loss was in Baltimore, where 321,142 people are registered, compared with 393,737 in 1986.
Four years ago, Baltimore had the highest number of registered voters of any of the state's 24 local jurisdictions. This year, it will rank third, behind Montgomery County, which gained voters, and Baltimore County, which lost almost 5,000 voters, but still has 344,963 registered.
There are several spirited races for legislative seats and county executive posts this year. Gov. William Donald Schaefer, however, faces an apparently easy path to re-election and no other statewide contests have produced compelling campaigns.
Four years ago at this time, Schaefer was squaring off against Stephen H. Sachs in a hotly contested Democratic primary. That year, there was also an interesting battle for the Senate, a contest eventually won by Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski.
Of the eight members running for re-election to the House of Representatives, only Rep. Roy P. Dyson, D-1st, appears to have problems.
"There's just not the excitement you have had in previous years," said the state's senior elected official, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein. "You don't have a tense fight at the top of the ticket that you've had in other years."
The state has 2,106,495 registered voters, compared with 2,139,690 for the primary in 1986. State elections officials estimate that there are 3,222,631 people eligible to register in Maryland, meaning roughly one out of three people eligible does not register.
Republicans now make up 29 percent of registered voters, up from 25 percent four years ago. Democratic registration fell from 67 to 63 percent. Independents and others held steady at 8 percent.
Some of the Republicans' biggest gains came in Carroll County, where the GOP now maintains a slim majority. Four years ago, Democrats enjoyed a 51-42 percent advantage.
The number of registered voters in suburban counties generally grew over the last four years. In Anne Arundel County, 176,527 are registered, compared with 169,647 in 1986. In Howard County, 92,801 are signed up, compared with 80,315 four years ago. Democrats now outnumber Republicans in Howard County by a 51-36 percent majority, with 13 percent independent. Four years ago, the margin was 56-32 percent.
Numbers compiled by the State Administrative Board of Election Laws show that only a relative trickle of voters registered in the first two weeks of August, before the Aug. 13 deadline. A total of 28,745 people registered in August in time to vote in the primary. Four years ago, 42,324 registered in the comparable two-week period in August.
The registrations were particularly weak in Baltimore. In that two-week period in August, 2,213 people registered in Baltimore. In Prince George's County, which has a smaller population, 7,186 people signed up to vote.
State Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, D-City, said his constituents tell him repeatedly that they don't register because they don't want to be called for jury duty. "Particularly the older people, who you would think would be the ones to register," he said.
Lists of potential jurors are pulled from voter registration lists.