Make your vote count

Our view: Like a good scout, a voter needs to be prepared

October 28, 2008

Do you know where you are supposed to vote?

The firehouse, the elementary school down the block, the neighborhood community center?

This year, more than any other, where Marylanders vote is critical to having their vote count. That's because a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling has restricted the use of provisional ballots. In the past, a voter who showed up at the wrong polling place could fill out a provisional ballot and his or her votes for national or statewide were counted upon verification of registration. But the state's highest court, in a case challenging early voting, has strictly applied the state constitution's directive on where a voter votes - in his or her election district. And it's imperative that a voter arrive at the right place.

Now is the time to call your local or the state elections board to ensure you know where to vote. Anticipating widespread voter interest, state election officials have enlisted the help of a call center in Western Maryland, which can be reached at 1-800-222-8683. The folks manning the phones can check registration and verify the locations of the state's 830 election precincts. So far, state officials say their phones have been ringing off the hook. On Friday, at least 6,000 calls came in from the Baltimore metropolitan region and Prince George's County.

That kind of response underscores the interest in this year's historic presidential contest and state Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone's expectation that 85 percent of Maryland's 3,429,046 registered voters will cast ballots. The deadline to receive an absentee ballot is today.

So here are a few words of advice: Know where you are supposed to vote on Election Day, study the sample ballot that should arrive in the mail and bring it with you on Election Day for reference. Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., but you should vote between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if you hope to avoid long lines.

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