Cecil County Goes to the Polls: Strong Turnout Reported, Cecil Voters Decide Local, State Officials and Charter Questions

November 4, 2014

Cecil County voters went to the polls Tuesday in large numbers to select three members of the County Council, state Delegates and Senators, and local officials including Sheriff, as well as casting ballots on statewide offices. Reports of voter turnout showed strong and steady participation throughout the day.

By 3 p.m., a total of 12,294 voters had turned out at the polls, according to the county Board of Elections. Republican participation outpaced that of Democrats, with 6,187 Republicans casting ballots while Democrats tallied 4,261. The remainder of ballots was cast by “unaffiliated” voters and members of “other” parties or groups.

Countywide, voter registration for what is classified as “active, eligible voters” totals 61,991. Republicans hold a slim majority with 24,692 voters while Democrats list 22,917—a 1,775 voter difference. There are also 13,288 “unaffiliated” voters in the county, while 300 voters identify with the Libertarian Party; 129 are registered with the Green Party; and 665 are listed as “other.”

During a week of early voting held at the county administration building in Elkton that ended last Thursday, 4,123 voters—or 6.65 percent of those eligible to vote– showed up to cast their ballots before the traditional election day. Of those early voters, Republicans turned out in higher numbers, casting 2,089 ballots, while Democrats cast 1,532, according to state Board of Elections reports.

In addition, “unaffiliated” voters in Cecil County cast 436 early ballots while there were 33 ballots from persons listed as “other,” 10 ballots from Libertarian Party members and 3 from Green Party members.

Proportionately, the Cecil County early voting tally showed that 8.46 percent of eligible Republicans voted early while 6.68 percent of county Democrats did so.

On Election Day, in Cecilton (Precinct 1) voter turnout was strong and steady throughout the day, according to poll watchers, and there was a line of voters waiting when the polls opened for the day. Although it is one of the county’s smallest precincts in terms of population, Cecilton has a long tradition of proportionately very large voter turnout.

Throughout the county, no doubt fueling local voter turnout was the neck-and-neck statewide contest for governor, between Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, a Democrat. Although Hogan lost the majority of Cecil County GOP voters’ support in the June Republican primary to nearby Harford County Executive David Craig, Hogan has worked to mend fences locally.

He appeared last week at a fundraiser in Chesapeake City and also won new friends in nearby Cecilton, when his campaign bus stopped for gas at the Royal Farms there, according to local residents. While his big bus gassed up, Hogan got off the bus and shook hands and chatted with everyone in sight, according to an eyewitness, who added, “People were really impressed with him.”

Meanwhile, Cecil County voters were rendering decisions on three County Council seats.

In District 2, incumbent Joyce Bowlsbey, a Republican, was being challenged by John Ulrich, a Democrat. In District 3, Dan Schneckenburger, a Republican, was facing Bob Porter, a Democrat, to fill the seat of Councilor Michael Dunn, who was defeated in the GOP primary in June. And in District 4, Wayne Tome, a Democrat and former County Commissioner, was seeking to reclaim his old seat against a Republican candidate, George Patchell, who defeated the current Councilor Diana Broomell in the June GOP primary.

For Sheriff, Scott Adams, a Republican who won a commanding majority in his party primary in June against multiple opponents, was facing a challenge from William (Danny) Blackburn, a Democrat. The winner will replace the retiring Sheriff Barry Janney, a Republican who has endorsed Adams as his successor.

A potentially close contest for Register of Wills, between veteran incumbent Allyn ‘Lyn’ Price Nickel, a Democrat, and Michael W. ‘Good Mike’ Dawson, a Republican, is also at stake.

Depending on their place of residence, Cecil County voters will also cast ballots in two state legislative districts. In District 35, one Delegate seat is an all-Cecil County area pitting veteran incumbent David Rudolph, a Democrat, against political newcomer Kevin Hornberger in the 35A section of the District, near Elkton. The other 35B section— a newly redistricted turf that covers western Cecil and northeastern Harford County—provides two Delegate seats with multiple Harford residents competing for the slot.

The District 35 Senate seat, also newly drawn by redistricting, pits Republican Wayne Norman of Harford County against Democrat Bridget Kelly, of Cecil County.

In District 36, covering southern Cecil County as well as three other Upper Shore counties, incumbent Senator Steve Hershey is being challenged by Democrat Benjamin Tilghman.

And for the Delegate seats in District 36, Cecil County will have no local resident delegate—due to the defeat of current Del. Michael Smigiel ( R) in his party’s primary. Kent County Delegate Jay Jacobs (R) is unopposed and is assured of being returned to Annapolis.

The key contest in the district is the fight between two Caroline County residents—Jeff Ghrist, a Republican who knocked off Smigiel in the party primary, and Robert Thornton, a Democrat who held the seat 20 years ago. Del. Steve Arentz, a Republican from Queen Anne’s County, is being challenged by Irving Pinder, a Democrat. Cecil County voters get to cast ballots in all of those races.

And Cecil County voters will also render their decisions on four ballot questions seeking to change the county’s Charter, which was adopted overwhelmingly by voters in 2010.

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