Long lines mark end of early voting in Carroll County

A busy week of early voting in Carroll County and across the state came to a crowded end Thursday night as hundreds descended on the county's only early voting center at the Westminster Senior and Community Center to cast their votes for positions from the local school board to the president of the United States.

For the final four hours of early voting, more than 100 people waited in line for just over an hour each. Lines stretched outside of the front doors of the senior center and curved into a labyrinth indoors, snaking down hallways and crossing over itself. Poll volunteers had to act as crossing guards, guiding people through walking intersections so the lines didn't bash into each other.


Parking was even more difficult, as spots at the center quickly filled up. Cars parked along the streets at nearby offices and in front of homes so residents could make it in before early voting closed at 8 p.m.

By just after 5 p.m., 1,901 Carroll County residents had cast their vote Monday in 2016 Presidential Election early voting

While the start of early voting was marked by just a single campaigner standing outside of the senior center, the close featured a veritable gauntlet of candidates, supporters and signs that residents had to make their way through before casting their ballot.


Alison Demarest, of Mount Airy, was surprised by the length of the line. She said this was her first time at early voting, seeing as she normally casts her vote on Election Day. This year, because she is traveling on Tuesday, she decided to come out early.

"I actually came on Saturday and saw the line was kind of long and I didn't feel like staying," Demarest said. "Now that seems a little foolish."

According to Katherine Berry, election director in Carroll County, has seen an extraordinary turnout for early voting this year. Exactly 2,900 people voted on Thursday, bringing the week of early voting total up to 19,503, about 15 percent of total eligible voters and an increase from the 2012 election, in which 10,408 people cast their ballots in early voting.

Unlike the lines of Black Friday or the Motor Vehicle Administration, most people waiting seemed largely in good humor, with a surprising amount of patience and positivity. Some talked politics with fellow voters, while others joked about the line length.

After more than a year of campaigning by candidates seeking office, the first Marylanders will cast their ballots Oct. 27. Early voting opens across the state at 8 a.m.

It moved steadily throughout the evening, as people constantly filtered out of the polls after casting their votes. As the line made its way around the senior center's welcome desk and down the hallway, poll volunteers opened the doors at the bend so voters could get a quick break of fresh air and cool down outside of the heated hallway. The bend marked about 20 minutes left before the polls, as volunteers mimicked amusement park lines with frequent time updates.

Young Novalis, of Westminster, said he had assumed the line would be shorter today than Election Day, but was still willing to wait to vote.

"I come out every four years to do my civic duty," Novalis said. "It's an odd year, for sure. I wouldn't say I'm excited about either of the main candidates."

Shawn Baylor, of Westminster, was one of those voters willing to come out on a Thursday evening to have his voice heard. He said this election was a special occasion.

"I don't quite vote in every election, but I just felt the need to this year," Baylor said.




Recommended on Baltimore Sun