- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Voters in Maryland and the District go to the polls today to decide primary races that are tighter than expected, largely because of the write-in candidacies for D.C. mayor, the redrawn district for an eight-term Maryland representative and the crowded field for Prince George's County executive.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was kept off the Democratic ballot because of thousands of forged signatures on his re-election petitions. The scandal prompted the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, a one-time supporter of the mayor, to mount his own write-in campaign.
The mayoral candidates whose names are printed on the ballot are James W. Clark; Osie L. Thorpe, a builder; dancer-actress Faith Dane, who goes by just her first name; and the Rev. Douglas E. Moore, a former D.C. Council member.
Officials have estimated that the write-in votes for each candidate, which will be counted by hand, may not be known for a week. But whoever captures the primary will be, at least for now, the de facto winner of the Nov. 5 general election: No Republican candidate has come forward.
Maryland voters will decide primary races for both the Republican and Democratic parties, including candidates for governor, comptroller, state's attorney general, county executive nominees in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and several congressional and state legislature seats.
In the gubernatorial primaries, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., retired surgeon Ross Pierpont and James J. Sheridan are vying to be the Republican candidate. Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Robert Raymond Fustero are squaring off for the Democratic nomination.
The eight congressional races in Maryland have been made all the more interesting because of the redrawn district lines, most notably the contest for the 8th District seat held by Rep. Constance A. Morella. Mrs. Morella an eight-term Republican who often votes with Democrats and who won comfortably in most of her re-election bids faced her toughest fight two years ago when she won by only six percentage points.
Democrats have been after her seat for years and have redrawn lines to make her Democratic-leaning district even more so. The new district includes much of southeastern Montgomery County and portions of Prince George's County but does not include rural upcounty precincts where she has had strong support.
Many Democrats and political analysts say this is the most vulnerable Mrs. Morella has ever been. The five candidates competing for a chance to unseat her are Delegate Mark K. Shriver, state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., Clinton administration trade official Ira S. Shapiro, lawyer Deborah A. Vollmer and Anthony Jaworski.
In Prince George's County, five Democrats are running for their party's nomination for county executive: State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson, the Rev. Anthony Muse, Major Riddick, County Council member M.H. Jim Estepp and Delegate Rushern L. Baker III. Two Republicans, Audrey E. Scott and J. Mitchell Brown, are vying to go against the winner of the Democratic primary.
In the Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive, incumbent Douglas M. Duncan faces a challenge from William E. Legat. Eric Anderson, Jorge Ribas and Shelly Skolnick will compete to win the Republican primary.
Baltimore lawyers Edwin MacVaugh and Jeffrey N. Pritzker are competing to take on Democratic Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. in November. Mr. Curran does not face any opposition in the Democratic primary.
In the race for comptroller, Republicans can vote for either Augustus Alzona of Montgomery County or Gene Zarwell of Anne Arundel County. Whoever wins will take on the winner of the Democratic primary between Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and challenger John T. Willis.
Voters in the District and Maryland will use new voting machines today.
Montgomery and Prince George's counties are using AccuVote machines, just like the ones that have been praised for accuracy and speed for several years in Alexandria.
Each voter will check in with election judges. They will be given a voting card and escorted to an AccuVote. They will insert the card at one side of the machine, touch the computerlike screen beside the names of their chosen candidates, remove the card and drop the card into a secure box.
The District is using Optech Eagle machines. Voters will check in with judges, confirming they live in that precinct and are registered. They will be given a ballot. In a booth, they will pencil in a connection between an arrowhead and mark beside the names of their preferred candidates. They will cover the ballot and insert it into the Optech Eagle. If the ballot is marked correctly, the machine will record the votes and the card will be dropped into a security bin.
Election officials expressed confidence that the machines will be easy to use and will record the results more quickly.

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