Almost Like Old Times in the Booth
Early Voting, the 2012 Primary election edition, is “On” at the Frederick County Senior Citizens Center on Frederick’s Taney Avenue. It may have secured its place in local lore, taking on the appearance of a Springtime Frederick County Fair. This is even better than the concept’s successful 2010 launch.
A sea of candidate signs obscured the blooming spring flora at the entrance to the center, its parking lot filled quickly at the 10 A.M. opening. Voters flocked in during the morning hours at a rate of about one per minute while the strains of “My Wild Irish Rose” floated through the walls from the community chorus next door.
There was no bean soup, vegetable soup or hot dogs and pie for sale; just a means of beating the April 3, 2012 Primary (next week) rush by voting at your leisure. There were, however, the usual clusters of people turning it into a social occasion. It still was like Market Day.
Center Director Carolyn True was non-plussed by the main room voting activity and welcomed the elections team. Voting units, circling the main room were separated from singing, art and exercise classes. Many patrons hustled through the voting so they could get to the center’s lunch, an important part of its community outreach.
The similarities to the single Election Day atmosphere included a gaggle of VIPs from the city and county, who met and greeted, proving to the masses that they, too, are the Common Man. No electioneering is allowed, you understand, but it is kind of a State of the County obligatory appearance by our leaders.
Del. Galen Clagett (D., Frederick) voted a few minutes ahead of Sen. David Brinkley (R., Frederick/Carroll), both of whom reported they were on their way to Annapolis and wanted to get a sense of how voting was progressing. Frederick City Alderman Carol Krimm also cast her vote before noon.
Early Voting began last Saturday and continues through tomorrow from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. The regular Primary Election polls will be open from 7 A.M. until 8 P.M. next Tuesday.
Numbers tallied on the upgraded Diebold Voting Units were a surprise to many who had worked Early Voting two years ago. Stuart Harvey, election director, sensed in late afternoon Monday that vote totals could exceed the Saturday turnout of 459 voters. Actual numbers Monday were just shy with 453 votes cast by the time Mr. Harvey declared the 8 P.M. closing.
Counting Sunday’s good turnout means more than 1,200 votes were in the books, and – at this writing – we understand business continued busy on Tuesday.
We thought some confusion might reign and voters might not realize they could vote early on any of six days because of apparent media concentration on the candidates. We must probably credit the attention-to-detail team at the Elections office, whose mailings of voter registration cards and sample ballots for Democrat, Republican and Unaffiliated (or other) voters were in hands of those who came to vote.
The Daily Blather gave Early Voting short shrift, not mentioning it in Friday or Saturday editions, editors depending on its well-done Voters Guide Sunday to carry the load. To its credit it reported weekend voting numbers in its Monday scholastic edition, interviewing Mr. Harvey, but confused closing times.
Even WFMD930AM radio “Morning Mayor” Bob Miller was confused Monday morning when he and Del. Kelly Schulz (R., Frederick) talked about it on his show. He may have been reading The Daily Blather. Mr. Miller said he preferred the familial atmosphere of Election Day at the firehouse.
Delegate Schulz told listeners she decided to vote Sunday despite having an Absentee Ballot in her hand. “I just thought I should vote,” she said.
Persons having an absentee ballot are listed on the voting unit’s official record as having been issued a ballot. Thus Delegate Schulz would have had to vote a Provisional Ballot, which is reviewed with absentee ballots; if determined to be valid is counted. Her Absentee Ballot would have been voided on the machine.
I counted the media reps on one hand. They included a Gazette photographer, familiar WFMD reporter Kevin McManus, and veteran journalist/columnist Roy Meachum of www.thetentacle.com. The latter two agreeing they might as well combine voting with business.
Some other Monday observations include:
Voters Monday came from the far reaches of the county, Brunswick, Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Mount Airy, Ijamsville and Urbana. They didn’t seem distressed by the commute.
Voters were enthusiastic, and it appears Republican voters aren’t apathetic this time. Outnumbered GOP voters cast 193 votes to the Democrats’ 240 and 20 unaffiliated. Whether it is the presidential primaries or local congressional Races, the draw to vote is certain.
As usual a large number of senior citizens came in to vote, in wheelchairs, on walkers and on the arms of loved ones. That is the great generation it would seem.
Some voters, displaced from the Sixth District through the gerrymandering by Gov. Martin O’Malley, were personally escorted by Mr. Harvey to the county map displaying the new alignment. Several Jefferson voters expressed dismay that the demarcation line between the Sixth District and the Eighth District virtually splits one neighborhood.
Mr. Harvey believes Early Voting has the voters’ seal of approval, adding the next election may see additional Early Voting venues in the Thurmont area and Urbana. Votes cast this week will be counted Primary Election Night with those cast in next Tuesday voting.
We will have another opportunity to be up close and personal with the voters today. See you at the “Fair.”