Early Voting Day 1 Report: ‘No one is really rude because everyone is entitled to their opinion’

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A voter, campaign materials in hand, entering the Wayne Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover on Thursday, the first day of early voting. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Thursday was a bright fall day – perfect for voting.

But turnout for the first of eight days of early voting in Maryland was, predictably, modest. The State Board of Elections reported late Thursday that 44,920 voters cast ballots at one of 96 early voting centers across the state. Early voter turnout tends to increase on weekends and in the final hours of the last day, which is November 3 this year. Election day is November 8.

“It’s exactly what I expected,” said John Connole, the chief election judge at the North Carroll High School Library Complex in Hampstead, at noon. “It’s light but stable.”

Many Maryland voters who cast their ballots on Thursday said they did so to get ahead of the crowds. Others said they wanted to cross the task off their to-do list.

Voters at both ends of the ideological spectrum regretted that term-limited Governor Larry Hogan (R) could not run again.

Many early bird voters turned up at the first polling stations with campaign materials in hand. Most avoided the country workers they encountered en route to the building. State elections staff reported no major issues on opening day.

This year’s election will determine who succeeds Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Attorney General Brian Frosh (D). US Senator Chris Van Hollen (R) is seeking a second term against token opposition and the eight seats in the US House are up, as are the 188 seats in the General Assembly and hundreds of local offices throughout the state. Several statewide ballot questions, including one that would allow recreational use of marijuana, appear on the ballot.

At early voting centers in Landover, Chevy Chase, Germantown, Baltimore City and Hampstead, a light but steady stream of voters could be seen throughout the day. There were fewer signs or campaign volunteers than there were in the July primaries – proof that the most competitive races in these jurisdictions were during the primaries.

Turnout was decided on Thursday evening and voters sought parking at the Germantown Recreation Center on the first day of early voting. Photo by Margie Hyslop.

At the Wayne Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover, voters voted at a facility named for Prince George’s County’s first black county superintendent. Polls suggest Democrat Wes Moore, who is fighting Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick) and three others could become the state’s first black governor, but voters said that was not a factor in their decision-making.

“It’s not a black thing with us,” said one black voter. “It’s really about what you say you’re going to do for people.” The woman’s husband said, “You choose the best candidate who is qualified, who can do the job.” (The woman said she wished Hogan could seek a third term. “I hated to see him go,” she said. “I love that man.”)

Voter Carol McCreary-Maddox called Moore a “shining star” and a “go-getter.” But she said many black Americans believe Barack Obama’s election has caused a “backlash” among some white voters, now causing a sense of foreboding. “We need him to win, but I don’t know where our country is,” McCreary-Maddox said.

By contrast, polling place in Hampstead, where the aroma of the Fuchs North America spice factory across the road filled the air, was Cox country. The Republican is hosting a “One Nation Under God” event in the county town of Carroll on Friday afternoon.

Two pensioners who went to the polls together, Martha Hyson and Katherine Planthought, voted for Cox – although Hyson did so reluctantly. Hyson has also described herself as a Hogan fan.

“Governor. Hogan has done a lot for the city of Baltimore and doesn’t get much out of it,” she said. “I listen to WBAL Radio every day.”

Hyson said she agrees with many of Hogan’s criticisms of Cox, including that Republicans aligned with former President Trump tend to focus on distractions rather than offering solutions to problems. real problems. And she said she was “very disappointed in the officials” who helped Cox win the Republican primary.

But in the end, Hyson said, she couldn’t vote for a liberal Democrat.

Plan Thought agreed that Cox was not her idea of ​​a perfect candidate, but said she was happy to vote Republican anyway. When it comes to National Congressional elections, she said her biggest fear is that “every time Republicans take office, they start fighting each other.”

A woman who identified herself as Kay stood outside the polling station, wearing a blue Cox t-shirt and handing out literature, as her two home-schooled children rode past on a scooter.

“A good lesson in civics for children”, observes a passerby. Kay accepted.

Kay said she and her husband are enthusiastic Cox supporters because as Catholics, “we always vote pro-life. This is the most important issue for us. »

When asked what she thought of Cox’s prospects, given that he was trailing badly in all public polls, Kay replied, “It’s in God’s hands. We need a moment of separation from the Red Sea. A moment from Jericho. It’s in the hands of God. I don’t read polls.

In a conservative territory like Carroll County, one of the hottest elections this year is for three seats on the board of education. One of the incumbents, Tyra Battaglia, who has fought for parents’ rights and against mask mandates in public schools, was outside the polling station in Hampstead, handing out literature for her slate BMW”, so named because the surnames of the candidates are Battaglia, Miller and Whisler. According to Battaglia’s flyer, she and her teammates are running against “other union-backed far-left candidates.”

A woman walking away from the voting center opened her window and shook her fist in support of Battaglia.

“Keep that school discipline!” cried the woman. Battaglia waved and thanked her for her vote.

Disabled by Cox call for dropbox watchers

Asked about the gubernatorial race, several voters in suburban Washington, D.C., expressed concern about Cox and statements he made about the 2020 election. Cox, an attorney, spent time in Philadelphia after that election, seeking to substantiate the former president’s allegations of fraud. He also raised questions about the ballot in Maryland.

Signs opposing the ballot question that would impose term limits on Baltimore city officials on a hill near the Mt. Pleasant Church and Ministries Early Voting Center in East Baltimore. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

“I could never vote for a Holocaust denier,” said Julian Schweitzer, a Chevy Chase voter. “He’s a huge threat to our democracy. I voted for Hogan at one point, (but) not for that idiot. He’s beyond pale.

Constituent Richard Moorer, standing alongside his wife, said Holocaust deniers “are automatically excluded from our list”.

This week, Cox issued a call for volunteers to “monitor” the state’s election drop boxes. “It’s no secret that mailboxes are routinely misused and filled with infamous ballots,” he wrote, without providing evidence. “We must remain vigilant in order to preserve clean elections and hold individuals accountable.”

Cox included a list of state drop box locations. Volunteers were encouraged to look for “suspicious individuals with backpacks or bags hanging around ballot boxes” and “individuals putting stacks of ballot papers into ballot boxes”. He also warned against people wearing gloves and “abnormal behavior”.

“Don’t just take photos and videos, but ask questions,” he wrote. Monitors were encouraged to submit “possible voter fraud” to a “Stop the Maryland Steal” email account. He said the “most crucial time” to monitor drop boxes is from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Shown Cox’s email, voter Kathy Moorer said: ‘That’s just plain nonsense. It is simply absurd. She said she saw cameras around drop boxes that would provide “a record” of illegal activity. “We should not intimidate voters. We should encourage people to vote.

Meanwhile, at two Baltimore City early voting centers, it was impossible to find anyone voting for Cox. In fact, it was hard to find candidates and campaign volunteers either, although both places had plenty of campaign signs.

Outside the League for the Disabled headquarters, an early polling place on East Coldspring Lane where Moore had voted in the primary and where candidates and campaign volunteers were plentiful in July, a lone figure was handing out campaign materials, removing pieces one at a time from his basket, in support of the local ballot issue that would impose term limits on city officials.

The woman, who would not give her name, said business was slow. “Nobody really wants to take paper home,” she said.

Although surrounded by signs opposing the ballot measure, the woman did not seem to care.

“No one is really rude,” she said, “because everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.

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