Voter turnout climbs for primaries but not as much as some people thought

campaign signsElection campaign signs lay discarded in a pile by the Silver Spring Library. PHOTO BY SUZANNE POLLAKTurnout was up, but not as high as some had predicted

While voters here didn’t rush to the polls in record numbers as some had predicted, turnout did increase throughout the County when compared with the 2014 gubernatorial primary. 

However, it was not as high as the 2016 presidential election primary.

During the June 20 primary, 23 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. According to the Board of Elections, 33 percent of the Democrats voted, while only 14 percent of the Republicans and 3.7 percent of nonpartisans pushed their paper ballots through the scanners.

There are 644,000 registered County voters. 

State Democrat Party Chairperson Kathleen Matthews said that statewide, there was a 14-percent increase in voter turnout among Democrats. She praised the increase and predicted that number would rise even higher come the November general election. 

Voter turnout was higher during the 2016 primary, which is usually the case during a presidential election. In that election, voter turnout was 38 percent.

In the last gubernatorial primary, which was four years ago, only 17.5 percent of voters showed up.

Scott Goldberg, secretary of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, was pleased with the 2018 primary turnout.

“We estimate that compared to 2014, it was about 35 percent higher,” Goldberg said of the number of Democrats voting.

He credited the heavier turnout to two factors. Last week’s election was the first chance voters had to “show their displeasure” with the Trump administration, he said.

Also, he noted, “We had a lot of good candidates.”

While there was an increase, some people had expected the numbers to be even higher.

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D- 17) thought some voters “were a little overwhelmed” with the number of candidates from which to choose – there were 33 candidates running to fill four spots – as well as with all the electioneering materials they had received both by mail and at their door.

When faced with so many choices, “They stepped out rather than stepping up,” she said of those not casting ballots.

Former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, who unsuccessfully ran for County executive, agreed. Some voters stayed home because there were “too many candidates,” she said. 

Delegate Ben Kramer, who was unopposed in his bid for the Senate seat held by Roger Manno, predicted there will be a large turnout in November.

“I think the enthusiasm level will definitely ramp up for the general election. I think a lot of people are chomping at the bit,” Kramer said. 

Many County voters chose to cast their votes early. Of the 150,636 votes cast before Election Day, 129,000 were from registered Democrats, and 5,700 were from registered Republicans. 

During the presidential primary two years ago, only 43,000 early votes were cast, of which 35,600 were from Democrats.

Lorig Charkoudian, who successfully ran on the Democratic ticket for state delegate in District 20, called that a “huge increase.”


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