Voters head to the polls for ‘charged’ Election Day

Barclay Elementary School polling place
The entrance to the Barclay Elementary School polling place (Selah Maya Zighelboim)

By Selah Maya Zighelboim and Jesse Berman

A brisk morning and blue sky greeted voters on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Outside Barclay Elementary School in Charles Village, a line wrapped around the block. Signs outside of the building told voters to keep 6 feet apart and wear face coverings, while volunteers handed out election material and snacks.

Not long past 7 a.m., when the polling place opened, Rabbi Ariana Katz, of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl, and her partner, Ever Hanna, were standing on the sidewalk, offering out buttons and KIND bars. They were there as volunteers for Baltimore Votes, an organization that encourages voter participation. They had already voted early using a drop-off box and decided to come to the polls because they wanted to help.

“Everyone’s vote matters so much, but the votes cast today feel so charged,” Katz said.

In the leadup to Election Day, states across the country reported historic levels of early voting, and Maryland was no exception, with more than 2 million Marylanders voting in advance of Nov. 3, according to the Baltimore Sun.

In addition to the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, voters in the Baltimore area cast ballots for congressional representation, Baltimore mayor, City Council members and more. Ballot questions and referendums in the city and surrounding counties had voters weigh in on issues that included the balance of power between the City Council and mayor, sports betting and campaign financing, among others.

“I haven’t been around so many in eight months,” Hanna said, referencing the line at Barclay Elementary.

When asked, Katz listed defunding and abolishing the police, a living wage, digital access for students and protecting teachers among the issues she cares about.

“It’s so powerful that everyone can vote,” Katz said, “especially in a city so segregated.”

Meanwhile, at Pikesville High School, voters were also met with a long yet steadily moving line, as well as the exuberant bellowing of one particularly extroverted and boisterous poll worker, who asked for everyone’s cooperation to keep the line moving quickly, and who pointed out one particular voter who had chosen to dress in shorts for the chilly autumn day.

One voter waiting in line, Beth Tfiloh congregant Barbara Brown, of Baltimore, said she planned to cast her ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden, citing healthcare, Israel, the environment and abortion as her top issues.

Jewish Uniformed Service Association member Judah Rosenbloom, of Baltimore County, expressed his support for President Donald Trump. He listed the Middle East, Israel, the border wall, socialism and fake news among his top concerns.

A third voter in line, who identified herself as Rachel K. of Pikesville and a member of Ohr Hamizrach Congregation Sephardic synagogue, declined to say who she would be voting for, but noted she wanted “just someone who’s going to take care of our country.”

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