The Montgomery County Board of Elections has two pieces of advice for the nearly half-million residents expected to hit the polls in tomorrow’s momentous presidential election: 1. Bring your sample ballot filled out; 2. Avoid the Election Day rush hour.
Nearly 78,000 county residents took advantage of early voting and another 45,000 will be voting via absentee ballot, according to Board of Elections spokeswoman Marjorie Rohrer.
But that still leaves more than 400,000 voters to flood the fewer than 250 polling sites—on average, roughly 1,600 voters per poll—between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The 2008 presidential election drew 441,796 Montgomery county residents to the polls—a 72 percent turnout—followed by a 52 percent turnout in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Rohrer thinks turnout for Election Day 2012 will edge past the 2008 turnout.
“Typically for presidential general election, we would see 65-80 percent turnout,” she said. “I think we’re going to be at the high end of that this year, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
But this time around, Montgomery voters face a ballot complicated by hotly contested ballot questions—an unprecedented 10 in all, including same-sex marriage, expansion of the state’s casino industry, the congressional redistricting and a county measure that would diminish the police union’s bargaining powers.
Rohrer urges voters to fill out their sample ballots ahead of time and take them into the voting booth.
“That’s going to mean they’ll be at the machine for less than a minute,” she said. “If everybody does that, there aren’t going to be long, long lines. But if you get there and it’s the first time you’re reading the ballot, it’s going to take you a while and we’re going to start to get a backlog.”
She also recommends voters to go to their polling place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. rather than the peak periods before and after the work day.
“Anyone who can vote in the middle of the day should vote in the middle of the day,” she said.