Voter rolls set to reach 100,000

Registration increases 22 percent since 2000

Md. election boards `inundated'

Officials attribute surge to growth in population

Carroll County

October 15, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The number of registered voters could top 100,000 in Carroll County, a 22 percent increase since the 2000 presidential election.

The final figures from Tuesday's deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 2 election have yet to be tallied, but they should add more than 1,000 names to the 99,364 people registered as of Sunday, election officials said yesterday.

The county has seen a surge in registrations since the summer, with more than 4,800 residents added to the rolls since Aug. 1. Election officials are still counting applications submitted by mail and forwarded from other counties and the state. They do not expect to have a final figure until late next week.

"We have as many as 1,300 more to put on our rolls," said Gail Carter, deputy director of Carroll's board of elections.

Several hundred people visited the board of elections office in Westminster on Tuesday, and about 500 others took advantage of the chance to register at the county's five library branches.

"We had more than 300 walk-ins Tuesday and more than 500 forms from the libraries," Carter said.

Elections staff will accept registrations that were postmarked by Tuesday and those forwarded by other elections boards and the state. The county also had received more than 2,700 requests for absentee ballots about two weeks before the Oct. 26 deadline for submitting those by mail.

"Every board in the state is inundated, and registrations have increased statewide," Carter said. "Annapolis and other counties are shipping registrations to us daily."

Linda H. Lamone, the state's elections administrator, also does not have final figures, but she agreed that registrations have increased across Maryland.

About 68,000 state residents registered last month, an increase of more than 25,000 from September 2000. In Carroll, about 3,000 people registered last month.

"Voter registration is definitely up," Lamone said. "We are seeing significant increases."

State elections officials point to population increase as a reason for the surge. Carroll's population grew by nearly 16,000 in the past four years, said Bill Cain, a county comprehensive planner.

The Republican Party continues to dominate Carroll politics. Local GOP ranks swelled by more than 10,000 voters since 2000 to 52,112. Democrats added about 3,000 voters in the past four years and number 33,600. Independent and third-party voters accounted for additional increases in registration.

County election workers anticipate a large turnout for the general election, possibly greater than the 79 percent who voted in the 2000 election and gave President Bush 65 percent of the county vote.

"The primary was slow here, but I think the election judges will be hopping on Nov. 2," Carter said. "I hope all these people come out to vote. Registration at this late date means they probably will."

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