Presidential race, ballot questions drive voters to polls

A hotly contested Presidential race that saw Barack Obama win re-election and four controversial referendum questions had Carroll countians flocking to the polls throughout Tuesday.

Voter turnout was about 75 percent, according to the Carroll County Board of Elections.

Republican leaning Carroll voted overwhelming in favor of Mitt Romney, although most - like Union Bridge resident Harry Fisher - realized that President Barack Obama would carry the traditionally Blue State and earn its 10 electoral votes.

He drove 90 minutes from his job as a military contractor in Lancaster, Pa., to cast his ballot for Romney at Francis Scott Key High School, then 90 minutes back Tuesday night.

"I'm in a Democratic state but I've got to come out and vote regardless," Fisher said.

Fisher voted for Romney because he believes he'll bring more jobs to the country. Most Carroll voters cited the economy and job creation as the key factor in their vote.

"We feel like [Romney] has a better action plan on how to get back in shape," said Amy Baird after casting her ballot at Westminster Middle School. "Honestly I feel like Obama's had four years to improve things and I think that he hasn't gotten that job done."

Ryan Cook, 23, graduated with a criminal justice degree from the University of Maryland in May and recently landed a job, calling himself one of the lucky ones.

"A lot of my friends are struggling," he said, which is why he registered Republican and gave Romney his vote at Piney Ridge Elementary.

Others, like Dante Parlton, voted for Obama to have another four years, saying unemployment isn't the president's fault.

"Jobs are coming back, people just have to apply for them. I blame people for being unemployed," he said after voting at Robert Moton Elementary Tuesday.

"It's like this - if I had a basketball team and me putting another point guard in when my point guard's just heating up," Parlton said. "I feel like the president's heating up."

Four statewide referendum questions - on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, congressional redistricting, same-sex marriage and expanding gambling - were the driving factors for some to vote Tuesday.

Robert Doyle, of Westminster, was one of the first 50 people in line to vote when polls opened at West Middle School at 8 a.m.

He wasn't very excited to be voting for the elected officials - "they're all politicians" - but was more interested in the ballot questions, which he thought were going to be pretty close votes.

"Some of the questions this year are very personal," he said, such as question 6 on gay marriage.

Many young voters cast ballots in a presidential election for the first time Tuesday.

Bill Nichols picked up his son, first-time voter Alex Nichols, 19, from college and drove him to Sykesville Middle School.

In the car, the pair chatted about politics - one of the first few times they'd had that talk, they said.

Their views seemed to align. President Barack Obama for re-election. Yes on same-sex marriage. No to expanding gambling.

While the younger Nicholas was excited for Election Day, Linda Daigle-Jones of Westminster said she's looking forward to the election being over so she won't have to see any more election-based commercials.

"It will let everybody get back on track again," she said after voting at Charles Carroll Elementary Tuesday morning.

Daigle-Jones said she voted for Obama, who she thought has been more consistent in his messages to voters than Romney. She also thinks that the criticism about Obama's record has been unwarranted.

"He's only had 3½ years to clean up 8 years of mess," she said.

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