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Maryland voters face long ballot, tight races

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Photo - Campaign signs and voters in line for early voting at the Silver Spring Civic Building (Getty Images)
Campaign signs and voters in line for early voting at the Silver Spring Civic Building (Getty Images)
Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Maryland voters face a historically long ballot on Tuesday, deciding federal and local elected offices as well as seven statewide ballot questions and county referendums.

While some of the races are foregone conclusions -- like the races for president and a U.S. Senate seat -- others are hotly contested.

(View sample ballots for Montgomery and Prince George's counties)

The long ballot could lead to longer-than-usual lines at the polls, warned State Board of Elections Deputy Administrator Ross Goldstein. However, nearly 12 percent of eligible voters voted early, which should help keep lines down.

Going to the polls
Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
What's at stake: President, one U.S. Senate seat, eight U.S. House seats, local judges, local school board positions, seven statewide ballot questions, two Montgomery County ballot questions, seven Prince George's County ballot questions.
Results: elections.state.md.us

Voters should expect the shortest lines between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Goldstein said. Voters who go to the polls at peak times -- in the morning before work, during lunch and at dinner time -- should prepare to wait for up to an hour.

» Ballot questions: The seven statewide ballot questions have been the stars of this election cycle, with questions about whether Maryland should legalize same-sex marriage, allow some illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition at local colleges, or expand gambling garnering national attention and millions in out-of-state funds. The gambling question alone -- which would legalize table games and allow a new casino to open in Prince George's County -- has inspired more than $90 million in contributions, mainly from the two casino operators with the most at stake. The other contested issue is Question 5, if the state should have to redraw its congressional districts, which have been heavily criticized as the most gerrymandered in the country.

» Senate: Challenging Democrat incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin are Republican Dan Bongino and independent Rob Sobhani. Recent polls show more than half of likely voters backing Cardin, while just less than a quarter supported Bongino and 14 percent supported Sobhani.

» Congress: Easily Maryland's most hotly contested congressional race is between Republican incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Democratic challenger John Delaney, who are vying to represent Maryland's redrawn 6th Congressional District. Although the district has been historically based in rural Western Maryland, it was reshaped last year to include a large portion of liberal Montgomery County, transforming it into a majority Democratic district.

In the 3rd District -- ranked by Philadelphia geospatial analysis firm Azavea as the third least compact district in the country

-- incumbent Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes is running against Republican challenger Eric Knowles from Baltimore County. The district stretches from Annapolis to Owings Mills and includes parts of Silver Spring and Baltimore.

The incumbents are expected to win Maryland's other six congressional districts.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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