Cecil County Early Voting Brings Out Slight GOP Advantage; South County has High Turnout

April 17, 2016

Early voting in the 2016 primary elections, which began last Thursday and continues for a week, is bringing out a small, but steady, voter turnout in an election that will decide several local contests as well as register county voters’ views on statewide and national campaigns. So far, southern Cecil County voters have a strong turnout rate in the early polling.

Early voting in Cecil County is held at just one polling place—the county administration building on Chesapeake Blvd. in Elkton—and each day, campaign signs and supporters of various candidates have made a strong presence to try to woo voters to their candidates moments before votes are cast. Republicans hold a modest, but increasing, registration advantage in the county overall, and GOP voters show a slightly higher rate of participation in early voting, according to state Board of Elections data.

On the first day of early voting, on 4/14/16, 482 ballots were cast, including 271 Republican ballots and 196 Democrats, plus independents and minor party members. A similar turnout was recorded on Friday (a total of 487 voters) but turnout dropped considerably (148 voters) on Saturday—a beautiful, warm, sunny day when outdoor activities might have been more attractive than traveling to Elkton to cast votes.

For the first three days of early voting—Thursday, Friday and Saturday—the state elections board tallied a total of 1,117 votes cast, or 1.76 percent of the “eligible, active voters” on the county’s registered voter rolls. For the two major political parties, Republicans tallied 626 ballots cast, while Democrats produced 468 ballots.

Under a recently enacted change in state election laws, previously un-registered voters can show up at the early voting center and register to vote—if they have proper identification documents—even after the previous deadline for online, mail or election board registration or party affiliation changes earlier this month. Few Cecil County residents have taken advantage of this new late-registration provision, and so far just 6 new voters registered during early voting. In addition, 4 people reported changes of address in the county during the early voting process,

Elections Board registration data for Cecil County now lists a total of 26,218 registered Republicans, and 22,424 Democrats—a difference of 3,794 voters. Independent or “unaffiliated” voters number 13,556 citizens.

During early voting, some of the more rural areas are showing a stronger turnout. Precinct 1, which covers the Earleville and Cecilton areas that vote at the local elementary school on election day, had an early voting presence of 2.02 percent of registered voters.

Precinct 2, covering Chesapeake City up to southern Elkton, had the highest early voter rate in the county, 2.31 percent. The south county—and especially Precinct 1—often have the highest voter turnout rates in the county, perhaps based upon the older average age of local residents and their long history of turning out to vote in local elections.

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