Primary voters in Maryland head to the polls today to nominate candidates who will square off in the fall for offices from the presidency to local school boards.
Polls throughout the state are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Analysts say turnout will depend on voter interest in the virtual two-man race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and John Edwards (N.C.).
Ellanor McCoy, 56, a Brentwood Maryland Resident votes Tuesday morning in the Maryland primary in the Brentwood Municipal Center.
(Chet Rhodes - post.com)
For most of those who do cast ballots, the experience will be a new one as Maryland rolls out its centralized, all-electronic voting system.
Linda H. Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections, said she expects the new machines to run smoothly. Still, she said, the state has put together a team of 381 workers who are prepared for any glitches that might come their way.
The Board of Elections has assigned a technician to each of the 19 counties that will be using the new equipment. They will be assisted by 317 "rovers" around the state who will report on problems.
An additional 40 administrators will be manning a state "help desk," and at least five staff members will be stationed across the state to respond to security issues.
Maryland is one of 10 states, including New York, Georgia and California, that are holding Democratic presidential primaries today. Maryland accounts for 69 of the 1,151 delegates at stake today, Super Tuesday.
Kerry made an eleventh-hour visit to the state, campaigning yesterday morning at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
"I am here to mark with you the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency," Kerry told a gym packed with students, union members, veterans and top Maryland Democrats.
"George Bush thought he could play dress-up on an aircraft carrier, standing up there in front of that big sign saying 'Mission Accomplished,' " Kerry said. "He thought you wouldn't notice all of those jobs being lost, a million-dollar-a-day deficit. . . . Every minute two jobs are lost across this nation."
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio) and civil rights activist Al Sharpton of New York, the other two active contenders for the Democratic nomination, also appear on the Maryland primary ballot.
While the presidential candidate contest tops the ballots, Maryland voters will choose candidates for U.S. Senate and House races as well. In Montgomery County, voters will decide which school board candidates should square off in the fall.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), vying for a fourth term, is opposed by retired teacher Sid Altman of Gaithersburg and community activist A. Robert Kaufman of Baltimore. Nine candidates are running on the Republican ballot for U.S. Senate.
Among the most hard-fought contests in the region, Republican voters in the 8th Congressional District will select a candidate to take on Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D). Party favorite Charles Floyd, a retired Army officer and former State Department official, is running against Robin Ficker, a former one-term member of the Maryland House of Delegates.