Lines long, but moving, as Towson voters hit the polls

This story has been updated.

Election judges at several northern Baltimore County precincts continued to report high voter turnout in late afternoon of Election Day.

At St. James Academy in Monkton, chief judge Richard Schroeder said almost 1,500 voters had already come through the doors by 3:30 p.m. In the 2008 presidential election, 2,327 people voted.

"There were people in line at 6:30 this morning and I don't think the line has ever gone away," he said. The typical wait at mid-afternoon was 45 minutes.

Over at Jacksonville Elementary School, where two precincts are located in one building, the total number of voters at 4 p.m. was 1,796, about half of the 3,504 registered voters.

And one of the quirkiest polling places was Long Green Fire Hall. Those voting in the lower level are in the 7th Congressional District, while voters upstairs belong to the 1st Congressional District.

Between the two precincts, almost 1,500 people had voted by 4:30 p.m. That number is more than half of registered voters in the two precincts.

"Voting has always been downstairs so a lot of people just stood in line down here. We went through the lines to make sure people were in the right precinct," said chief judge Ann Schmidt. "We had a list of addresses and we sent many people upstairs to the right precinct."

Voting in Maryland — and in the Towson area — continued at a brisk pace on Tuesday afternoon, as residents turned out to cast their votes for president, Congress and a host of ballot questions and bond measures.

Though voters could walk right in and vote around 2 p.m. at Pleasant Plains Elementary, Chief Judge Jacques Amos said more than half of the precinct's 900 voters had already cast ballots, a number that doesn't include those who voted early.

With early voters added into the equation, Amos estimated the precinct had seen between 60 to 70 percent turnout.

"We aren't even at the dinner rush," he said. "We're probably going to have a record turnout ... and it's the ballot questions that are driving this."

In the morning, lines grew quickly at Towson's polling places, but election officials reported little confusion and even less problems as the pre-lunch rush began.

"It hasn't let up since we opened the doors," said Francis MacDougall, an election judge at Dumbarton Middle School.

MacDougall was supervising voting near the Dumbarton gym, which is serving as a temporary polling place for Stoneleigh residents while Stoneleigh Elementary is under a construction project.

Gina Young, 33, said she waited with her other displaced Stoneleigh voters at the Dumbarton gym for more than 90 minutes, but she figured the line would be worse in the evening.

Both MacDougall and Ed Matricardi, his contemporary at Towson High School — the other temporary voting location for Stoneleigh residents — reported about that just a handful of people tried to vote at the wrong location, but no more than in previous years.

Matricardi said wait times reached an hour at the high school earlier this morning, though it was down to 15 minutes around 11 a.m.

Chief Judge Pat Jakelski, who was overseeing polling for voters who normally vote at Towson High, reported no problems with voting machines, but said turnout was heavier than usual.

Brenda Bechdel, 48, commiserated with neighbors who were waiting in the growing late-morning line, but said she waited just 15 to 20 minutes to cast her ballot.

"We've never seen lines like this," she said. "And it's not that they're not being efficient. I just think more people care this year."

Colin Stine, 57 of Idlewylde, let out a sigh of relief after casting his ballot at Dumbarton.

Despite the lines, he said he votes every election and had strong feelings about several of the candidates.

"This is a huge turnout," Stine said. "The line was this long at 7 o'clock, and it's still going."

Meanwhile, voters leaving Ridge Ruxton School around 12:30 said they waited around 40 minutes. Chief Judge Bonita Pinkney said those were among the location's longest waits of the day.

"Turnout has been great," Pinkney said. "We're getting over 100 voters per hour."

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