Maryland residents will have the opportunity to vote on Nov. 4 for local and state candidates and while some Salisbury University students are taking advantage of it, many are still choosing to not participate.
“I’m not voting,” sophomore Avery Ezell said, “It’s just not that important to me.”
Some students are not aware that there is an election coming up, but for others the election is very important to them.
“I want to because (voting) is a privilege we have that not a lot of people our age take advantage of and I don’t think they realize how lucky we are to be able to have a say in how our state government is run and how important their contribution can be,” sophomore Phyllis Blessing said. “Other countries don’t have that freedom and privilege.”
This year, SU’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement brought TurboVote to the university, a service that keeps track of local and national elections that are relevant to the user and provides forms and information on how to register, update voter registration and request an absentee ballot.
In the past two months when it was being advertised, 273 students of over 8,000 students signed up for TurboVote. Almost 50 paper copy voter registration packets were handed out, as well.
PACE Interim Managing Director Robby Sheehan is not discouraged by the seemingly small numbers.
“For our first year using the service, that is a very exciting number,” Sheehan said.
While some students register to vote in Salisbury, many others chose to register in their home towns.
“In Maryland, the law allows our voters to determine for themselves where their domicile is and thus where they should register to vote,” Wicomico Election Director Anthony Gutierrez said. “So long as they are voting, that’s what really matters to us.”
Sheehan agreed, saying that it was a “personal choice.”
“Some students have a strong affinity for their hometowns and before moving away to college, were very involved in their communities,” he said. “I think it is perfectly rational that these students feel that they should participate in their local elections. I encourage students to consider where they would like to register to vote, but be sure that they, in fact, do vote and participate in the electoral process.”
In order to vote in their hometowns from Salisbury, students must request an absentee ballot.
Students can apply for one online if they have a Maryland driver’s license or Motor Vehicle Association issued identification card, complete a form online and return it to their local board of elections via mail, fax or e-mail or fill out the form at their local board of elections.
The request form must have been received, not mailed, by Oct. 28, in order to receive a ballot by mail or fax, but students can still gain one by sending in a request received by Oct. 31 in order to download the ballot from the State’s website.
In Wicomico County, voter registration numbers have been steadily increasing over the past few years, with 57,700 registered voters this year.
Gutierrez attributes this increase to overall population growth in the county as well as the past two Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, “with credit going to both political parties as well as either third party initiatives or non-partisan efforts to raise awareness and hopefully turnout.”
For this election, running for Governor and Lt. Governor are Anthony Brown (D) with Ken Ulman (D), Larry Hogan (R) with Boyd Rutherford (R), Shawn Quinn (L) with Lorenzo Gaztanaga (L) and Charles U. Smith (D) with Clarence Tucker.
Running for Comptroller of Maryland are Peter Franchot (D), William H. Campbell and Anjali Reed Phukan (Md. Service Party).
Up for election for the Attorney General are Brian E. Frosh, Jeffrey N. Pritzker (R) and Leo Wayne Dymowski (L).
Running for the Representative in Congress for Congressional District 01, the district that holds Salisbury, is Bill Tilghman (D) and Andy Harris (R).
In the running for State Senator for Legislative District 38B, which holds Salisbury, is Jim Mathias (D) and Mike McDermott (R).
In Legislative District 38B running for House of Delegates is Norman H. Conway (D) and Carl Anderton, Jr. (R).
Running for Judge of the Circuit Court in Judicial Circuit 1 for Wicomico County are Melvin “M.J.” Caldwell, Jr. and Jimmy Sarbanes.
More information and more lists of candidates can be found at: www.elections.state.md.us/elections/2014/general_candidates.