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Carroll County Times Opinion

Our View: Carroll County has much to be proud of after unprecedented election season | COMMENTARY

While there is no way of knowing how long it will be before the presidential election is decided, Carroll countians knew the results of all their local races by the time the clock struck midnight on Election Day, giving this county much to be proud of regarding the way the election was handled locally.

When all ballots are counted — and Election Director Katherine Berry told us all votes will be counted by Nov. 13 — it appears more than 100,000 Carroll countians will have voted, a record, and almost certainly representing a turnout of more than 80% of registered voters.

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More than 39,000 mail-in ballots were requested, more than 36,000 citizens participated in early voting and a number that is likely to approach 30,000 turned out on Election Day.

That’s a lot of people coming through a relatively small number of voting centers, forced to endure social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies, in the midst of a highly partisan election season, sometimes enduring lengthy lines of more than an hour.

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And yet, Cpl. Jon Light, with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, said he was unaware of any incidents at the polls that drew the attention of law enforcement. Certainly nothing like the highly publicized arrest of a Fallston man for refusing to wear a mask inside a Harford County polling place. Last week, County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said he was proud Carroll hadn’t had any “knucklehead activities” at the polls.

Obviously, some grumpiness and some social media complaints were unavoidable. But the norm was kudos for a well-run operation and reports of getting in and out of many of the voting centers in under 15 minutes on Election Day.

Clearly, the longer lines occurred from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, during the early voting period. Wait times of an hour or more were not uncommon, but we hope that will be mitigated in future elections when Carroll adds a third early voting center, in the North Carroll area.

That the Election Day lines were as manageable as they were and the ballots counted in such a timely manner stood in stark contrast to some of the other counties in Maryland that struggled Tuesday night as well as some of the states across the country that were still a mess on Wednesday. Berry and her small staff and volunteers deserve a lot of credit for keeping things running smoothly at the voting sites and for having all of the Election Day ballots, all of the early voting ballots, and some 23,000 mail-in ballots tallied before the polls even closed in the western United States.

As for the Carroll County races, the incumbents fared well. While the results remain unofficial with thousands of mail-in ballots still to be counted, Board of Education President Donna Sivigny and Vice President Marsha Herbert each appear to have earned another term and Circuit Court Judge Richard Titus retained his seat with all three overwhelming their opponents during in-person voting after the challengers had fared well on mail-in ballots.

It was an election season unlike any other, contested during a pandemic, necessitating new rules and procedures that sometimes confused voters who were more motivated than ever, largely because of the presidential election, to cast ballots. We hope the lessons learned will be put to use in future elections and we’re glad it went as well as it did in Carroll.


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