As results poured in at the midnight hour for the 2012 elections, it appeared Baltimore County voters were in step with statewide voters on most ballot initiatives including the hot-button issue of same-sex marriage — but not on expanding casino gambling.
With 230 of 235 county precincts reporting, the proposed Civil Marriage Protection Act, Question 6, was leading by about 51 to 49 percent. That was about the same as statewide percentages, with nearly 61 percent of precincts reporting.
Maryland would be the first state to approve such a measure by popular vote.
Also leading in the county was the so-called Dream Act, Question 4, which would allow immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. That measure was winning 52 to 48 percent countywide, compared to 57 to 42 percent statewide, with nearly 61 percent of precincts reporting.
A congressional redistricting plan, Question 5, was leading in the county by even wider margins, 58 to 41 percent, compared to 63 to 37 percent statewide.
But the county and state were at odds over Question 7, a proposal to expand gambling with a casino in Prince George's County. County voters were leaning against it 52 to 48 percent, but statewide, voters favored it by the same margin.
Headed toward re-election by comfortable margins were Democrats U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd District, John Sarbanes in District 3, Elijah Cummings in District 7, and Republican Andy Harris in the 1st District.
Cummings led with 66 percent in the county, and in state numbers with 48 percent of precincts reporting, he led with 80 percent of the vote.
Ruppersberger led with 65 percent in the county over two challengers, and by 64 percent in the state numbers, with 61 percent of precincts reporting.
Countywide, Sarbanes led with 64 percent with all but five precincts reporting. Sarbanes was drawing 68 percent of the state vote with 55 percent of precincts reporting.
With 61 percent of the vote tallied, Cardin led three challengers with 54 percent in state numbers, and by 52 percent in the county with all but five precincts reporting.
In District 1, Harris was leading in the county with 69 percent of the vote over two challengers. State numbers showed Harris leading with 64 percent of the vote with 90 percents of precincts reporting.
About 400 undocumented students a year would benefit from the tuition law, according to a recent study by the Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, an independent research center founded by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
After being signed into law, the Dream Act was successfully petitioned last summer to be placed on the November ballot as Question 4.
Maryland has no statewide laws about tuition rates and immigration status, leaving the power with individual schools and the Maryland Higher Education Commission to decide.
Some voters worry the law would encourage illegal immigration, while other say it's all about education.
The last of 2,038 ballots at Rodgers Forge Elementary School on Election Day were cast just after 8:15 p.m., and the final voters made it inside just before the doors were locked 15 minutes earlier.
"I wasn't worried," said one of them, Carolyn Carlino, 40.
She didn't plan it this way, but the only time she could find to vote was late in the evening, a time she knew the lines would be dwindling.
"It's working out for me," she said with a smile. "My husband waited for an hour."
The Baltimore Sun reported earlier Tuesday that about 100 people waited in line at Rodgers Forge Elementary after the polls opened, and that waits at Dumbarton Middle School were more than an hour — in part because of some confusion as two polling precincts were combined into one location.
But by 8:15 a.m., lines had thinned and confusion dissipated as voters shivered in the morning's cool temperatures, The Sun reported.
In northern Baltimore County, Richard Schroeder, chief election judge at St. James Academy in Monkton, had the "Last Voter in Line" sign all ready to use. He saw long lines all day at the precinct and was sure he'd need it to stop people who showed up after 8 p.m. from voting.
But while there were still people voting as the polls closed at 8, there was, amazingly, nobody in line for the first time all day.
"We had 13 machines operating all day and a voter was at every machine all the time," Schroeder said. "I can't believe they finally stopped coming.