In an Election with Crowded Races, Voters Underscore Importance of Participation

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Signs greet voters along Glen Avenue in Baltimore outside of the Engine House #45 polling place. (Connor Graham)

Maryland voters headed to the polls on Tuesday  morning to cast ballots for governor, comptroller, attorney general, state delegates and senators, U.S. Senator, Congress and county executive and council seats.

Democrats entered into a crowded race for governor, in which candidates Rushern Baker, Ralph Jaffe, Ben Jealous, James Jones, Richard  Madaleno, Alec Ross, Jim Shea and Krish Vignarajah all vied for the nomination on Election Day. After polling high prior to the election, Ben Jealous emerged as the Democratic nominee.


Prior to voting, Valerie Ervin, the former running mate of gubernatorial candidate and former Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, withdrew from the race and announced support for Baker. Ervin had taken over as gubernatorial  candidate after Kamenetz’s unexpected death from  cardiac arrest on May 10.

With Kamenetz running for governor, the race for his county executive seat heated up with five candidates. Gov. Larry Hogan endorsed former Del. Al Redmer Jr. for the position, while Del. Pat  McDonough (R-District 7) also vied for the nomination. The Democratic ticket included Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond (D-District 2), state Sen. Jim Brochin (D-District 42) and former Del. Johnny Olszewski. While Redmer won the  Republican contest, the Democratic race was too close to call as of press time with Olszewski having 26,698 votes, Jim Brochin with 26,337 and Vicki Almond with 25,707 before absentee and provisional votes were counted.

On the day of the primaries, it was a typical warm and sunny summer morning, but even without the hurdle of rain or thunder, polling places were quiet. The JT surveyed four separate polling places in Baltimore City and County, where between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., electioneers standing out front generally outnumbered actual voters.

For this Election Day,  however, looks might have been deceiving.

According to an unofficial early voting turnout count by the Maryland State Board of Elections, 170,356  Democrats and 47,736  Republicans voted ahead of the election last week. This is a 56 percent increase in early voting turnout compared  to 2014.

At Glyndon Elementary School in Reisterstown, an election judge confirmed that at just a few minutes past noon, 216 people had come to vote.

Reisterstown resident Yevgeniy Arber was one of those voters. For him, the reason to vote was simple.

“I didn’t want a Republican governor, specifically Hogan,” he said. “Ben Jealous seems pretty good, so I wanted to get him in there.”

Also at Glyndon Elementary  was Lynn Montgomery.  Although she didn’t say who she voted for, she made no qualms about seeing voting as an obligation.

“People aren’t voting. I’m tired of hearing people say, ‘No, I’m not voting today,’” she said. “Everyone should vote.”

At Northwestern High School in Park Heights, Norton and Marilyn Michelson showed up to vote shortly after 11:30 a.m. For Marilyn, there was no other choice. She’s voted in every single election since she was 21. She’s now 88.

“All the races were interesting. Dalya Attar lives in our building, so we know a lot about what she thinks,” she said. “I used to work in the school system. I’m  always reading in the paper about things happening in the schools. So anyone who is offering any amount of hope for improvement gets my  attention.”

Norton said the issues he cares about are in line with his wife’s.

“We pretty much stay in the parameter of the things that people our age care about,” he said. “We’re interested in making sure that justice is always exercised and that there’s a minimal amount of problems socially.”

Also at Northwestern High School were William and Gayle Hoffman. The couple moved to Park Heights from Pennsylvania two years ago.

“We’ve only been here two years, so we had to do a lot of research to learn who we’re going to vote for,”  Gayle said.  “In Pittsburgh, where we came from, we knew  everybody.”

“We always vote,” William said. “It’s important to exercise our franchise, so  we do.”

View the primary election results here.

cgraham@midalanticmedia.com

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