More than half of Maryland's early election period has more than twice as many electoral turnouts than recent Gubernatorial elections – a development Democrats call a good sign for their candidates.
After five days in advance, around 370,000 Marylanders voted in parliamentary elections – an increase of 135 percent over 2014.
This could be good news for the Democratic Party of the State, which hopes for a so-called "Blue Wave". Outraged by Republican President Donald Trump, Democrat Ben Jealous is being pushed into the governor's house, helping the party gain important seats in the county council and holding onto the state Senate.
But early elections can only fuel election turnout? That's a likelihood, considering the past voting behavior, say state election officials.
"Since we voted early, we've seen the percentage of voters voting during the early election increase as a percentage of turnout," said Nikki Baines Charlson, deputy steward of the State Board of Elections. "This has been our trend, it is making electoral voters vote early."
The following can be gleaned from the early election dates so far:
»High turnout so far: Election officials expect 33 percent of Maryland voters to vote during the early vote, which would be a record, Charlson said. This means that about two-thirds of voters will vote on election day. "In order to win Ben Jealous, this high turnout must continue through election day," said Mileah Kromer. Director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College: "If he can produce a younger, more diverse electorate, he has a chance to win."
»No Change of Day: In the middle of the early legislature, 640 Democrats have used voter registration on the same day to occupy ballots. About 200 Republicans did the same thing. These are relatively small numbers that do not suggest that a large number of new voters join the electorate. "If that were a big blue wave, you'd expect these numbers to be bigger," said Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science at St. Mary's College in Maryland.
»Older Voters Dominate Percentage of First Votes cast by Marylanders aged 18 to 24 are 3 percent. Older voters have so far dominated the early legislature, suggesting a similar electorate in past elections – rather than a radically changed political environment. "The politician who finally finds out how to initiate the youth vote will be remembered forever," says Kromer. "It's really hard to get young people to vote."
»Light Voting in the City: Halfway through the early poll, which sets the percentage of voter turnout in Baltimore At 4.8 percent, the city is an important jurisdiction that Jealous needs to grow up, but the city has few electoral races that dampen voter-to-convention congressional Republican Rep. Andy Harris and Democratic challenger Jesse Colvin, who had voter turnout robustly (15.5 percent in Talbot County, 11.8 percent in Queen Anne's County and 10.8 percent in Kent County). Jurisdictions with competitive races for County Executive have also seen better-above-average turnouts (10.1 percent in Howard, 7.9 percent in Anne Arundel and 7.8 percent in Baltimore County). "Jurisdictions with more competitive races seem to get more from early voting," said Eberly.
»Who knows? The number of Democrats moving to Republican Governor Larry Hogan. In the early poll, 106,729 Democrats cast more votes than Republicans. What is unknown is which candidate supports them. If the Democrats "come" to their party and support Jealous, as stated in his election campaign, he will probably win. If more than a third of Hogan votes – as the public opinion poll says – he will probably win. "It's just about crossover," said Eberly. "It's about how many Democrats turn to Hogan, and we will not know that until Election Day."
The early vote will run until Thursday. Election day is next Tuesday.