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With interest high, fanfare low, Carroll County Democrats open election headquarters in Westminster

Signs are posted outside the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters in Westminster Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.
Signs are posted outside the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters in Westminster Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Under normal circumstances, the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee would open its election headquarters with fanfare and celebration.

Instead, the committee quietly opened its headquarters at 295 East Main St. in Westminster on Tuesday.

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“Normally we would have a big festive event," chairman Don West said, but safety concerns related to COVID-19 took precedence. “There’s none of that.”

The Carroll County Republican Central Committee plans to open its office on Saturday.

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West said the coronavirus pandemic has forced committee members and supporters to rethink the way they campaign.

Carroll County Democratic Central Committee chairman Don West picks up campaign signs to deliver the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters in Westminster Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.
Carroll County Democratic Central Committee chairman Don West picks up campaign signs to deliver the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters in Westminster Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Typically, their strategy includes knocking on doors and gathering together to call voters. Now, they’re turning to virtual meetings to introduce candidates and focusing on social media. To raise funds, they’re holding a silent auction online. West said the committee still plans to call voters, but not gather in a large group to do it, which usually lends itself to building camaraderie and boosting morale.

Despite the lack of in-person campaigning, West said Democratic candidates are experiencing a wave of support. The committee has distributed about 500 yard signs for the Democrats' presidential ticket, West said, which is unusually high prior to the headquarters opening.

“This presidential election has generated more enthusiasm, more interest than anything I’ve ever seen,” West said.

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What’s more, West said he has fielded calls from a handful of Carroll County Republicans who said they’re supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Victoria Nefflen of Westminster chats with volunteer Ryan Koch right, as she stops by the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters to pick up campaign signs Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.
Victoria Nefflen of Westminster chats with volunteer Ryan Koch right, as she stops by the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters to pick up campaign signs Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

“I don’t ever remember having people stating that to a local Democratic political leader that they aren’t going to support their own nominee," West said. He’s been on the committee for 10 years and involved in politics for about 30 years.

Despite the support, West has no illusions about how the majority of Carroll County citizens will vote.

“Carroll County will still go for Trump, that’s just the reality," West said.

In 2016, more than 55,500 Carroll County voters, about 64%, voted for Republican nominee Donald Trump, not including provisional and absentee ballots.

West encourages people to develop a plan for voting early.

“There hasn’t been a more important election in my lifetime," he said.

The Carroll County Democratic Central Committee’s office is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. West asks guests to wear masks. More information about the committee can be found online at http://ccdems.com/.

Aileen Hepler of Sykesville chats with volunteer Henry Reiff, right, as she stops by the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters to pick up campaign signs Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020.
Aileen Hepler of Sykesville chats with volunteer Henry Reiff, right, as she stops by the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee Headquarters to pick up campaign signs Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

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