Carroll County Times

Primary election turnout slow and steady throughout day

Board of Education candidate Jim Roenick walked into Northwest Middle School in Taneytown, and Bill Rose took a pause. He looked at Roenick and said, "Man that got my vote."

Rose, a Taneytown resident, had never met Roenick before. But as he walked up to the middle school's polling booths, he stopped and chatted, learning that the Board of Education candidate aligned with Rose's own views.

"[There's] too much government in education," Rose said, adding that Common Core needs to get out of Carroll County.

That was one of Richard Castillo's main issues as well, stemming from a homework incident. Last year, his freshman son brought home an algebra problem. The two could solve it but couldn't answer the actual question, which required more than just math.

"This is the 'Common Crap' they want to ram down your throat," he said after voting for George Harmening, Charles "Bud" Nason and Roenick for Board of Education.

His other issue: his pocketbook. After living in the state for nearly 20 years, he's thinking about moving to Pennsylvania to dodge Maryland's taxes. His gubernatorial vote went to Charles Lollar, the candidate he thought could bring fiscal change to the state.

"Your money and your kids' education, you don't get to do those over again," he said after voting Tuesday evening.

About 1,200 residents had cast their ballots at Northwest Middle School as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, which Chief Judge Bob Miller said was one of the day's busiest precincts.

About a dozen campaign workers stood outside as voters walked in and out of the school. At one point during the day, Miller said they were getting a bit aggressive and he had to ask them to tone it down.

The flow of voters streaming into the school had been "steady, steady, steady" all day, he said. Working his fifth election as a chief judge, it's what he's come to expect from the precinct -- and what candidates have as well.

"This is one of the busiest polls in the county," District 5 House of Delegates candidate Haven Shoemaker said at about 6:30 p.m. "That's why I've parked myself here since 7 this morning."

After record numbers during the weeklong early voting period, poll workers said turnout was slow and steady Tuesday for the primary election.

"It hasn't been too crowded so far, just a moderate number of people," said Linda Dorsey, an election judge at Linton Springs Elementary School.

Polling sites opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and remained open until 8 p.m.

Chief Election Judge Linda Sterner said voter turnout had been sporadic throughout the day at West Middle School, despite its serving as two voting locations in Westminster. A number of people voted early before work but traffic was "very slow" from about noon to 4 p.m., she said.

More voters began showing up at West Middle after work from 4 p.m. onward. A steady flow of voters began entering the voting location at around 5 p.m., Sterner said.

Voters willing to discuss with Times reporters the issues that drove them to the polls mainly focused on the local races.

"I voted to oust the present commissioners," said Donna Saverino, voting at South Carroll High School. "I voted for [Richard] Rothschild last time because I thought he seemed like a good guy. I'm sorry that I did now though. His plans were a little bizarre. He was afraid of NATO and he scheduled big conferences for Carroll County in Baltimore County. I voted to get rid of the people already there and I hope to see more sensible politics."

The Board of Education race, which will cull down the eight-person field to six in the general election, also drew quite a bit of interest.

"I'm really passionate about the Board of Education election because I'm concerned about the board's position on Common Core," said Eldersburg resident Mike Triano after voting at Linton Springs Elementary. "I don't think we know enough about it to vote against it. Conservatives seem to be really passionate about dis-establishing curricula, but we don't know enough to dismiss it. They're catering to the voting bloc in Carroll County, so we voted for people that weren't -- Devon Rotschild, Mary Kowalski."

Kelly Chiavacci, a Westminster resident who voted at Cranberry Station Elementary School early in the day, also cited the school board as a race that was important to her.

"I think you have to be active in the community, and if you don't vote you can't complain about something if you don't do anything about it," she said.

Diana Garrison, of Westminster, said that the Board of Education race was critical to her because she has been home-schooling her children, but they will be entering public school this fall.

"We're concerned about what goes on in public schools," she said after voting at Winfield Elementary.

Garrison said that though not all families are conservative or have the same values, she believes that it is important for children who are religious to be able to exercise their beliefs.

Independent voters, like Veronica Cool, of Reisterstown, were limited to voting in the nonpartisan Board of Education race, but she said she took interest in the candidates.

"I care a lot about the Board of Education and all the drama going on there," Cool said after voting at Sandymount Elementary. "I voted for people that are supportive of kids' schools, I think we need more funding and less cutback. We have shoestring budgets so it would be nice to fully fund programs."

Fabrice Derullieux, of Mount Airy, said that he tried to look at all of the races and used his sample ballot to research the candidates before casting his ballot at Winfield Elementary School Tuesday evening,

"I saw a number of candidates saying, 'Too much regulation, too much taxation, overspending,' and that resonated with me," he said.

The county commissioners race was the one Raul Delerme, of Hampstead, was most interested in, "to make sure we get the best we can for the district."

"I hope they support the Board of Education's views and fun recreation and parks amenities," Delerme said after voting at Hampstead Elementary.

Social studies teacher and Hampstead resident Paul Bangle voted at Hampstead Elementary School and said he was interested in the county commissioners, state delegate and the Board of Education races.

"I teach about the history of people dying to give us this right, so I want to support the candidates that support us and it is my civic duty," Bangle said.

Others were interested in statewide races.

"I care most about the governor because I'm not happy with the current governor," said Finksburg resident Rachel Fales, voting at Sandymount Elementary. "The taxes in the state should be lower and I would like to see the state's abortion stance changed as well."

Several voters at Winfield Elementary said that the governor's race was important to them.

Lisa Miller, of Westminster, said that she voted for Democratic candidate Heather Mizeur because "it just seemed like there's something different in her."

"I would love to see a change to a really super, super progressive," she said. "I'm sure I'm a lone wolf out here."

Lee Garrison, of Westminster, said that he was particularly passionate about the governor's race because of Republican candidate David Craig's stance on tax breaks for veterans.

Garrison also cited Second Amendment rights as important to him.

"All citizens in this country should have the right to bear arms as it was originally intended," he said.

Many of the voters casting their ballots at West Middle said they did not come out to support a specific candidate or race but rather to exercise their right to vote for their representatives.

Gordon Johnson, of Westminster, said he felt as though he was doing his "American duty" by voting in the primary election. Johnson said he and his wife always make sure to vote in every election.

Johnson said that his neighborhood on West Green Street is politically active.

"A lot of our neighbors have signs," Johnson said. "The signs are for differing candidates, which is healthy."

Sharon Vance, of Westminster, said she also makes it a point to vote in the elections and take part in the democratic process.

"I just want to make sure my voice is heard," Vance said.

Jacki Birmingham said it's important for her to take advantage of the right to vote.

"Everybody should do it," Birmingham said. "I don't think you have a right to complain about what's going on in your government if you don't vote."