Ocean City Today

Parties pick up unaffiliated voters

Democrats, Republicans both see small boost to rolls in Worcester County
By Katie Tabeling | Mar 30, 2017

(March 31, 2017) Although overall voter registration in Worcester County dipped after the presidential election as the rolls were purged of inactive voters, the two major parties saw marginal increases.

Altogether, 38,318 people are registered to vote in Worcester, down slightly from the 38,417 registered voters recorded in November.

The Board of Elections has since updated its records, resulting in the small difference.

“When we receive mail back from a voter as undeliverable, they’re placed in an inactive status. If they don’t vote in a four-year period, like if they moved away, they’re purged from the rolls,” Patricia Jackson, election director said.

The Republican and Democrat parties did see a small bump in the last few months, with 16,457 and 14,347 registered voters, respectively. That’s up from the totals at election time, when the records showed 16,278 Republican voters and 14,203 Democratic voters.

While it might seem unlikely that the total number of voters dropped, but the parties picked up membership, it’s because of a shift in the independent or unaffiliated category.

The voter rolls show that after the election 672 people no longer listed themselves as independents. Today, 6,907 voters are registered as unaffiliated.

All third parties but the Libertarian Party saw minor losses in Worcester County, which increased by nine people to 228 registered voters overall.

Numbers aside, leaders of local political organizations said the election was a catalyst for residents to become more involved in the political process.

“It’s a shame we had to wait for a Republican president to get people motivated,” said Joshua Nordstrom, the chairman of the county’s Democratic Central Committee. “We got too comfortable with Obama in office and we lost the House and the Senate. Now a lot of Democrats are unhappy with Trump and they’re getting involved.”

He added that the Democratic Club of Worcester County has seen a boom in membership since the election, rising by 50 members to 157.

Its counterpart, the Worcester County Republican Central Committee, is mainly focused on sustaining its momentum.

“[We] have not slowed down since the November election victory,” said local committee chair Grant Helvey. “Since then, we’ve grown our organization, attended a Trump support rally and [we’re] planning to host the Maryland GOP convention in Ocean City in April.”

Other grassroots organizations have appeared in the last few months, such as the Eastern Shore Community Action Network that meets once a month in Snow Hill. That organization focuses on bringing changes in the local community and government through citizen participation.

Another group that emerged after the election was Main Street Patriots of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. This group has been active for years, as it hosted Tea Party rallies in Ocean City. On St. Patrick’s Day, the Patriots held a Pro-Trump rally where crowd of supporters waved signs at passing cars along Route 50 in West Ocean City.

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