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First Click, Maryland:
Political parties rev up early vote machines in Md.

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11 days to go until the election


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Friday, October 22, 2010:

The Agenda
Aaron.jpgIt begins today. After three years in the making and millions of dollars spent in preparations, the first early voting ballots to decide a Maryland general election will be cast today.

It's convenient (polls open for six days). It's fast (no lines, at least none during the primary). And you can be a good citizen (turnout last month was embarrassingly low).

earlyvoting.JPGBut don't think this is entirely about you - the Maryland voter. Over the last decade, Democratic and Republican parties have honed early voting into a weeklong get-out-the-vote bonanza.

Both parties are planning big pushes in Maryland beginning today. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is greeting commuters and handing out early-voting brochures this morning in Prince George's County. This afternoon he will vote with television cameras in tow in north Baltimore, while Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown will vote simultaneously in his Prince George's County precinct.

Saturday, rallies will begin statewide with Democratic organizers lining up buses to take people to polling stations and big names like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani coming in on Sunday to drum up Republican support for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Ehrlich has planned a statewide early voting tour.

Of course, the events follow a set up by both camps on Thursday, with former President Bill Clinton on stage in Baltimore urging Democrats to take advantage of early voting, and Ehrlich rallying supporters in Baltimore County, the suburban jurisdiction where blue-collar Democrats helped propel him to his 2002 victory.

If you're a registered Maryland voter, expect a call, or two, or three in coming days from your party urging you get to the polls. If you acquiesce, you can also expect the calls to stop.

Both parties are employing fairly sophisticated phone banking technology used during the 2008 campaign to keep tabs on those who have gone to the polls and those who haven't.

And if all goes well at the Maryland Board of Elections, the slight perk for voters on Nov. 2 should be an earlier-than-usual dump of votes within minutes of when the polls close at 8 p.m.

The state is working to avoid a repeat of delays caused by the first experiment with early voting last month in the primary election.

But the early-voting tallies may only give us an early indication of which way the election is going if more than the 2.5 percent of registered voters who turned out last month take advantage of early voting this time.

Maryland voters can start casting their ballots today. Voting centers are open from Friday through Thursday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For information on early voting, see the Maryland State Board of Elections Web site. The site also has a list of early voting locations by county.

-Aaron C. Davis


News You Should Know

Ehrlich, O'Malley spar over federal health care bill
wolbdebate.jpgFormer governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) sought to more aggressively highlight his opposition to the federal health-care law, which Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) supports, during the debate on Baltimore's WOLB-AM. The law, Ehrlich said, is "anti-market, it hurts working people, it raises taxes and does not get the bottom line with regard to what it is supposed to do, which is increase access and affordable cost. . . . It's more in the direction of a Canadian-European-style health-care delivery system." O'Malley countered that President Obama had been "courageous" to tackle the issue and recounted steps the state has taken to extend subsidized health insurance to more than 200,000 Marylanders in recent years, despite the economic downturn.
-- John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis

Constitutional Convention hopefuls tout support from Ehrlich, O'Malley
constitution.jpgIn the radio debate on Thursday, both candidates gave qualified support to a question on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters whether they want to call a Constitutional Convention in Maryland. "Ehrlich said he believes the idea has 'an upside,' particularly in a state that has been dominated by a one-party Democratic 'monopoly,'" reported The AP's Brian Witte. "'An opportunity to modernize state government, an opportunity to engage in this process, might be beneficial to the state,' Ehrlich said. 'We'll see. It's something that has not been, quite frankly, a major issue in our campaign, but I think people need to have an open mind about it.' O'Malley said he believes a constitutional convention 'can be a very positive thing ... 'If that's what people want to do then that's what we should do.'"


Quotables

"I've engaged with this audience. This is not a new or unique place for me. . . . I've been to the barbershops. I've talked to the people."
-- Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.during Thursday's WOLB debate, saying that he had been a frequent guest on Larry Young's program over the years, and is comfortable discussing issues important to the state's African American community.

"You received a grade of "F" ... not one year, but all four years" when in Congress.
--Gov. Martin O'Malley knocking Ehrlich during the debate, saying he earned a failing grade for his votes repeatedly from the NAACP.


-----

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By Aaron C. Davis  | October 22, 2010; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis, First Click  
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Next: Why no debates in the Mikulski-Wargotz race?

Comments

This really strikes at the difference - Erlich vetoed a bill to assist Walmart workers with getting health benefits. The American health care system is terrible, the employer based system is terrible - if Obama and the Dems didn't attempt to move the ball forward in some way we would just continue to face increased premiums and declined services from healthcare corporations. Moving reform forward was essential, and it would never happen under the Republicans.

Posted by: davidtroy | October 22, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

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