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News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Early turnout light on primary day in Harford's GOP areas

Precinct officials, supporters of candidates and voters reported a light, but steady, turnout at polling places around heavily Republican central and northern Harford County for Tuesday's primary election.

Polling places in Abingdon, Bel Air, Fallston and Jarrettsville were festooned with campaign signs. The grounds at the entrance to Abingdon Elementary School looked like a dandelion-covered field, with campaign signs instead of dandelions.

The polls opened at 7 a.m., and supporters of the various state and local candidates gathered at the legal distance from the polling place entrance for one final appeal to voters.

Ina and Marlin Taylor of Bel Air stood in a near-empty parking lot at Bel Air Elementary School to drum up support for incumbent Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane, a Democrat who is unopposed in the primary, but will face the winner of Tuesday's Republican primary, either Jeff Gahler or John Ryan, in the November general election. He could also face a challenge from an unaffiliated candidate who is gathering signatures to be on the November ballot.

Marlin Taylor raged at the lack of turnout.

"The world is full of apathy, and nobody gives a damn," he said.

Voters trickled into Bel Air Elementary.

Donna Coale, of Bel Air, and her father, John Reed, 91, arrived to cast their ballots – he for the Republicans and she for the Democrats.

Coale was confident in her choices for high-profile races, such as Attorney General Doug Gansler for governor and Art Helton for state Senate, but said she wanted to know more before voting in less prominent races.

"It would be nice if we knew them a little better, the central committee people," she said of the candidates running for seats on Harford County's Democratic and Republican central committees.

Fallston

At Fallston High School, voters made their way past supporters of Republican candidates, such as state Del. Pat McDonough and gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar, of Charles County, as well as Republican Central Committee member Greg Johnson, who is running for re-election.

Anthony Seda, of Aberdeen, was stumping for Lollar in an area expected to be partial to Harford County Executive David Craig, who is also one of the four GOP candidates for the party's nomination for governor.

"Good morning sir, are you voting Republican today?" Seda asked.

"No, I'm not," the voter replied emphatically.

Seda wished him a nice day, then gave campaign literature to a woman who said she was voting Republican.

Later in the morning, Seda asked a woman how she was voting.

"I don't have to tell you that," she replied sharply.

Seda stressed the need to remain positive.

"That's important," he said. "People have got to make their choices; that's the beauty of free will."

Joe Gessner, of Fallston, said he is a Democrat and stressed his support for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Del. Heather Mizeur, of Montgomery County.

"Put a fresh face in there, and get the state government started all over again, because we've been going backward for the past eight years," Gessner said.

Like other voters in the north-central part of Harford, Gessner chided those who decided to stay away from the polls Tuesday.

"It's funny," he said. "A lot of important things are at stake, and people aren't willing to come out and put a candidate in there that's going to change the things they want changed."

Jeff Popp, chief elections judge for the Fallston High precinct, said the morning turnout had been "very light, considering what's going on with the election, considering the money spent on the election."

"A lot of people in this country have died for the right to come out and vote, no matter what kind of election it is," he said.

A number of voters brought their children to the polls.

Donna Weitz, of Fallston, was accompanied by her daughters Maura, 13, and Meredith, 10, who joined her at the voting carrel.

"We came out today to vote, because we feel it's important, especially as women, for our voices to be heard, and we are hoping to make some changes," Donna Weitz said.

Meredith said the voting process "was certainly something to pay attention to."

Kay-Lee Handlin, 18 and a 2013 graduate of Fallston High School, was a first-time voter Tuesday.

"I came out today because I believe everybody should vote," she said. "I believe you have the right and you should do it."

The hourly vote totals, which were posted at each precinct, showed that 215 ballots had been cast at Fallston High by noon Tuesday, including 79 Democratic, 133 Republican and three nonpartisan.

Jarrettsville

Primary voter traffic was steady at Jarrettsville Elementary School.

The grass along Norrisville Road was covered in campaign signs, and supporters of candidate for governing bodies such as the Harford County Board of Education and the County Council stood in shady areas holding brightly-colored campaign signs and wearing campaign T-shirts.

Cindy Allred, chief judge for the precinct, said the polling place was "busier than I expected."

"It's been steady, pretty steady all day," she said in the late morning.

The count as of 11 a.m. stood at 139 ballots cast, including 44 Democratic, 93 Republican and two nonpartisan.

Sandra Jones, of Forest Hill, voted with her husband Leonard.

"It's a privilege to vote, and it's our duty to vote," she said.

Jones suggested the candidates for lower-profile races, where voters have to choose from among multiple names on the ballot, send out their campaign information earlier in the election season and provide more information about themselves to give voters more time and information to make a proper selection.

"You get bombarded, and you just don't remember," she said of the onslaught of campaign literature that typically comes to voters in the days and weeks leading up to Election Day.

Jones said a voter's guide provided by the county helps voters make their selections, however.

Abingdon

Wendy Ribbans, chief elections judge at Abingdon Elementary School, said traffic had been steady Tuesday morning and was picking up during the lunch hour.

She noted the polls for the 109 and 115 precincts, which are typically in the school cafeteria and gymnasium, respectively, had been combined and placed in the gym for the primary.

Two hundred people, including 90 Democrats, 104 Republicans and six nonpartisan, had cast ballots as of 1 p.m.

Voter Betty Hucke of Abingdon voted in the Republican primary.

"I figure, if I don't vote, I can't complain, and I came in particular to support Jeff Gahler [for sheriff]," she said.

Albert and Katherine Lindhorst, also of Abingdon, left the polls with Hucke.

"We always vote," Katherine Lindhorst said. "It's a privilege."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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