By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun
9:02 AM EST, November 8, 2011
Baltimore elections officials predicted very low turnout at the polls Tuesday, as city residents vote in the general election for mayor and other races.
The head of the city Board of Elections said he expected that about half as many ballots would be cast in the general election as in the September primary — which attracted record low turnout.
"My hope is always to have the total electorate to come out and vote, but of course we know that's not happening," said election chief Armstead B. Crowley Jones Jr. "The electorate is just not energized."
The city's 290 polling places will open at 7 a.m. and voters can cast ballots until 8 p.m., Jones said.
Crowley estimated that only 10 percent to 12 percent of the city's 370,000 registered voters would cast ballots Tuesday. About 23 percent voted in the primary.
In heavily Democratic Baltimore, the general election is often considered a formality. A Republican has not been elected mayor since Theodore McKeldin in 1963.
"You have to remember you're living in a Democratic city," said Jones. "It's generally known that after the primary, the race is over."
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did not spend the day before the election trying to persuade voters to choose her over Republican opponent Alfred V. Griffin III.
When asked if Rawlings-Blake would be campaigning Monday, campaign manager Travis Tazelaar said, "Not today."
Rawlings-Blake does plan to visit four polling places Tuesday, Tazelaar said. She is slated to hold an evening celebration at a Mexican restaurant in Silo Point, a Locust Point high-rise owned by developer Patrick Turner.
Griffin did not respond to a request for comment.
Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young also did not campaign Monday, but called community leaders to encourage them to vote for a charter amendment creating a fund for school construction, said campaign manager Adrian Harpool.
The measure, which was placed on the ballot as the result of a bill introduced by Young and Councilman James B. Kraft, would create a dedicated fund for repairing and building public schools. It was inspired by a report by the American Civil Liberties Union that said city schools needed $2.8 billion in repairs ranging from broken windows to heating systems.
The measure was stripped of a provision that allowed the council to dedicate revenues from taxes and fees to the fund. But it would still enable the city to consolidate grants and donations for schools.
"As much as [Young] is concerned about his own election, he is also focused on getting people to support his charter amendment," Harpool said.
Harpool said Young did not have a set schedule for election day.
"He likes to improvise," Harpool said. "He hasn't even told me what time he's going to vote."
But at least some candidates were pursuing voters on Monday.
City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, who lost the 7th District Democratic primary to political newcomer Nick Mosby, said she spent the evening planning an Election Day strategy for her write-in campaign.
"We're making sure all ducks are in a row," she said. "We've been canvassing today. We've worked on assembling materials. We've called people and made sure they're going to be at their stations tomorrow."
Mosby said he was calling voters Monday, thanking them for the primary victory and encouraging them to come out to the polls on election day.
Shannon Sneed, a former television news producer who is running a write-in campaign against incumbent Councilman Warren Branch in East Baltimore's 13th District, posted photos on Facebook depicting herself campaigning in the Oliver neighborhood.
Sneed, who lost to Branch by 43 votes in the Democratic primary, said by phone, "I'm out here in the field right now. We're still knocking on doors, talking to voters. I'm not taking anything for granted."
Baltimore Sun staff reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.
Election Day information
Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Polling places: Nearly 300 around city. For detailed information, contact the Board of Elections, http://baltimorecity.gov/Government/BoardsandCommissions/ElectionsBoard/PrecinctandWardPollLocations.aspx or (410) 396-5550
Races: Mayor, Comptroller, City Council President, City Council members
Other votes: Charter amendments to put aside money for repairing and building schools, and to lower the age for serving on the City Council from 21 to 18.
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