BY HAFIZ RASHID, Special to the Record
5:25 PM EST, November 7, 2012
For the first time in its history, Cecil County will have a county executive and, based on unofficial partial election returns from Tuesday, Republican Tari Moore will be the first to hold that office.
With 20 of 23 precincts reporting, Moore led Democrat Pamela R. Howard by more than 2,000 votes, receiving 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Howard.
County elections officials said 40,311 of the county's 62,522 eligible voters, 64 percent, cast votes either Tuesday or during last week's early voting. Absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted.
In addition to electing Moore as the county govenment's first chief executive, Cecil voters also strongly rejected statewide ballot questions on the Maryland Dream Act, same-sex marriage and expanded gambling, even though all three passed statewide.
Republicans ruled up and down the ballot in Cecil, much as they did in 2010 when the GOP swept every local office.
In the race for Congress in the First District, Cecil County overwhelmingly voted for Republican incumbent Congressman Andy Harris, giving him 62 percent of the vote, nearly 12,000 ahead of Democrat Wendy Rosen, who dropped out of the race in September after being found to have voted in Florida as well as Maryland in 2006 and 2008. Rosen, whose name stayed on the ballot, still received 31 percent of the Cecil vote, as a an effort by Democrats to back write-in alternatives fizzled.
Libertarian candidate Muir Wayne Boda got about 3 percent of Cecil's votes. Write-in candidates received 4 percent.
Cecil voters also elected their first members of a new county council Tuesday.
In County Council District 1, Republican Alan McCarthy took 61 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Democrat Pamela H. Bailey.
In District 5, Republican Robert Hodge defeated Democrat James Crouse, 55 to 45 percent.
In Board of Education races, William C. Manlove easily won the District 1 seat, while Lauren C. Camphousen won the District 2 seat.
In the race for President, Republican challenger Mitt Romney received 61 percent of the Cecil vote to 39 percent for President Barack Obama. Despite the lopsided local numbers for Romney, Obama easily carried Maryland and won nationwide.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino also carried in Cecil but lost statewide to incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin.
Question 4, known as Maryland's "Dream Act," gives undocumented immigrants in-state tuition at Maryland's colleges and universities. Cecil County voters rejected the proposed law, 57 percent to 43 percent, but the question passed easily statewide.
Civil marriage for same-sex couples, Question 6, also lost in Cecil by a 56 to 44 percent margin. It too passed statewide.
One of the more hotly contested ballot questions was Question 7, which proposed to expand gambling in Maryland. Despite being home to Perryville's Hollywood Casino, the question was rejected by Cecil voters by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent. Question 7 passed statewide by a 52 to 48 percent margin.
At the polls on the western side of the county Tuesday morning, elections officials and voters alike said the turnout was fairly heavy, with lines of voters waiting at some polling places when they opened at 7 a.m.
"Between 7 and 7:55 [a.m.], we had 148 people who had voted," said Sabrina Scholl, chief election judge at Bainbridge Elementary School in Port Deposit.
"As of 9, we had 300 people. It has to be a record," Scholl said.
Scholl said that during other elections, there would usually be five or 10 people waiting at the polls before they open. On Tuesday, it was different.
This election was of interest in Cecil because of the votes for the first offices created by the county charter that voters approved in 2010.
"We've never had a long line before," Scholl said. "We haven't had that 'lull' yet. "
Scholl said it appeared that many were voting for the first time, or for the first time in many years.
"We've had the [electronic voting] machines for four years since the last presidential election," Scholl said, saying that many had not seen them before and had trouble using them. "That's usually a good indicator [of new voters]."
Joyce Eden was "happy to have the opportunity to vote."
"It's what I love about this country," Eden, a Conowingo resident, said. "I think a lot of people take for granted the rights and provisions that we have.
"I voted Republican all the way," Eden said. She added that she was "really torn" regarding same-sex marriage, but decided to vote against it.
"I strongly believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Eden said. She added that she also believes in smaller government.
Bob Pountown of Conowingo voted for all Democratic candidates, despite being unaffiliated with any political party.
"The Republicans were obstructionists," Pountown said. "They didn't want to pass anything Obama wanted. They should work together and not be always stonewalling."
Pountown said that he also voted for the Dream Act, because it's a "good thing and I like to help people," but he voted against same-sex marriage.
"If they call it something else I would have voted for it," Pountown said.
At Perryville Middle School, the early turnout was considerable, as well.
"It's been very nice, very steady," said election official Marylin Bennett, who has been working on elections in Perryville for 37 years.
Rich Gilbert, another elections official, said that as of 10 a.m., Perryville Middle had about 340 people who had voted. Gilbert added that the only issue he had seen was one voting machine that would not charge and thus was not being used.
Pat Wiggins of Port Deposit came to Perryville Middle School by mistake and was headed to Bainbridge Elementary School with her friend, Annie Davison of Perryville.
"It's good to see a good turnout here, I'll tell you that," Wiggins said. She said she planned to vote for Democratic candidates.
"I like Obama, and I don't know a lot about Romney's views," Wiggins said. "I do know about them and I don't like them," Davison said.
Davison said she voted against Dream Act legislation giving in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.
"My son's in college, and I think that everyone should pay taxes like he should," Davison said. "I don't think anyone should get a free ride."
Dennis Moore said that to him, "voting is a very important right."
"As an African-American, a lot of people died for us to have the right to vote," said Moore, who lives at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Perry Point and came to vote with his friend, fellow VAMC resident Brian Bruckner.
"I'm voting for Obama. I think he's doing a good job," Moore said. "With us being vets, he's doing a good job to help us make sure we get jobs and get job training. He's doing a lot of the vets."
"A lot of things ain't perfect, but he's doing a good job and I think he's honest," Moore said of the president.