Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown may have claimed victory in a landslide win over his competitors for the Democratic nomination for governor, but turnout Tuesday was one of the lowest in decades.
Just 20.5 percent of voters cast ballots in the primary. Although provisional and absentee ballots must still be tallied, the turnout “could be a historical low,” said John T. Willis, executive in residence at University of Baltimore’s School of Public and International Affairs and an author of books about Maryland elections and politics.
Turnout in the 2012 primary was about 19 percent, including all provisional and absentee ballots. About 25 percent of voters came out in the last gubernatorial election in 2010.
The state’s high-water mark for primary election turnout was in 1982 when about 45 percent of voters participated. The year 2008 – when President Barack Obama was elected – turnout also was high with nearly 43 percent of voters participating.
Voters, election volunteers and political observers all were expecting Tuesday’s turnout to be among the state’s lowest, judging by the empty polling places yesterday.
Monica Bias of Severna Park called the turnout at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Company “pathetic” when she voted just before 7 p.m.
A 58-year-old state employee, Bias never missed a chance to vote. She declined to share her choices, preferring to keep her vote secret.
“I always vote. I never miss it. You can’t make a difference if you don’t vote,” she said Tuesday.
One advantage of light turnout was that Bias was able to cast her ballot quickly. “I’ve been here when the line went out the door and wrapped around and around,” she said.
Turnout for Democrats and Republicans was similar: 22.4 percent of Democrats participated in Tuesday’s contest compared to 21.8 percent of Republicans.
Brown beat out Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur for the Democratic nomination. In November’s general election, he will face Larry Hogan, who bested Harford County Executive David R. Craig.
Voters came out in slightly lower numbers in most parts of the Baltimore region than in the last gubernatorial primary in 2010.
Here’s a look at the numbers (including election day and early voting):
- Anne Arundel County: 65,305 voters participated in Tuesday’s contest, down from 75,672 in 2010.
- Baltimore: 69,634 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary, up from 68,623 in 2010.
- Baltimore County: 105,088 voters participated Tuesday, down from 122,552 in 2010.
- Carroll County: 23,645 people voted Tuesday, down from 26,374 in 2010.
- Harford County: 33,766 voters cast ballots on Tuesday, down from 38,418 in 2010.
- Howard County: 38,914 participated on Tuesday, up from 37,824 in 2010.
Baltimore Sun reporters Erin Cox and Pamela Wood contributed to this report.