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Compared To Rest Of MoCo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turns Out To Vote

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 6/27/2014, 12:25pm  ET

Candidate supporters and volunteers outnumber voters at Whitman High School on TuesdayVoter turnout stats for this week’s gubernatorial primary weren’t encouraging anywhere in Maryland, especially not in Montgomery County.

The solidly blue county of 630,255 registered voters had a turnout rate of just 16.34 percent after Tuesday’s elections, the lowest of any county in the state.

Almost 24 percent of the county’s Democrats turned out, an unimpressive mark that nonetheless looks to have been lifted by higher than average Democratic turnout in Bethesda and Chevy Chase precincts.

In legislative District 16, which covers Bethesda, part of North Bethesda and Potomac, 28.55 percent of registered Democrats voted either Tuesday or in early voting. That’s a total of 14,461 voters and good for the best Democratic turnout rate of any legislative district in the county.

In County Council District 1 — the race incumbent Councilmember Roger Berliner won against Duchy Trachtenberg — 23,475 Democrats voted for a turnout rate of 28.75 percent, again the best turnout among council districts in Montgomery.

Boiling those numbers down even further will show many Bethesda and Chevy Chase polling places had Democratic turnouts surpassing 30 percent — a modest but significant fact for a state that as a whole had a primary turnout of roughly 22 percent.

The polling place at Rollingwood School Center in Chevy Chase (3200 Woodbine St.) had the best Democratic turnout among local precincts with 38.18 of registered Democrats voting either on Tuesday or in early voting.

Chevy Chase Village Hall, Clara Barton Community Center, Chevy Chase Elementary School, Westbrook Elementary School and Bethesda Library were among the local precincts that got votes from at least 30 percent of its registered Democrats.

Electronic polling book problems early on Tuesday at Bethesda Library, Chevy Chase Elementary and Westland Middle School didn’t seem to hurt turnout. Some voters who showed up at the start of voting at 7 a.m. had to fill out paper provisional ballots or return later because electronic voting cards weren’t working.

At Somerset Elementary School, near the home of attorney general nominee Brian Frosh, 772 Democrats voted on Tuesday or during early voting. Anecdotal evidence on Tuesday suggested voting there and at nearby precincts was higher than elsewhere because of Frosh’s popularity and what was expected to be a tough race against Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin.

Two of the worst local turnouts came at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which actually was the voting place for two precincts. One B-CC precinct reported 24.88 percent Democratic turnout, the other reported just 19.28 percent Democratic turnout.

Friendship Heights Village Center, thought by some to be a key precinct because of its surrounding senior population, pulled in 652 total Democratic voters for a turnout of just 26.45 percent.