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Early voting off to strong start in Harford

The first day of early voting for the general election brought steady stream of people to polling places in Harford County Thursday, indicating an upswing in participation compared to the low turnout of the summer primary.

Bel Air's McFaul Activities Center, the largest of Harford's four early-voting sites, drew 249 people in the first hour of voting and 487 by noon, election officials reported.

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The Edgewood library also had 155 voters by noon, while University Center in Aberdeen had 142 and the Jarrettsville library had 143, deputy elections director Dale Livingston said.

"It's been very busy," Livingston said early Thursday afternoon. "McFaul's been extremely busy, which is really fun."

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A total of 6,261 people cast early ballots in the primary election, fewer than 4 percent of all eligible voters in the county.

The line for McFaul was around the block when the center opened at 10 a.m., chief elections judge Melody Bunn said at about 11:30 a.m.

"Everybody came out with bells on," she said. "It's been keeping us busy."

Shortly before noon, people were still pouring into the center, with nearly every polling booth full and the judges quickly processing voters.

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Bunn said there hadn't been any issues or problems with early voting so far.

Pauline Manfre was among those who said it just made sense to vote before Election Day, explaining the weather could be bad Nov. 4 some other obstacle might get in the way.

"I don't know if something is going to happen that day, might be an event that day," Manfre said.

She was very eager to vote for Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor. Many others said they were likewise voting for Hogan.

"I just wanted to make sure I got here to vote because I am very unhappy with who is there [in office] right now," Manfre said. "I was ready. I'm here; I'm excited."

She did not have strong feelings about any local candidates except Joe Cassilly for state's attorney, because "he is a good guy."

Doris McGinnis was also voting at McFaul Center just before noon.

She noted she had recently registered as independent and voted across party lines for various candidates.

"I believe everyone should have a chance," she said. "I don't believe in voting a party."

McGinnis also voted for Hogan, saying: "I think there needs to be a change in leadership."

She hoped he could "do something more for the economy of Maryland, so we are not losing all this tax base revenue that businesses would bring."

"I feel we are depending too much on the government employees," she said. "I believe you should not put all your eggs in one basket."

At University Center, at least 10 people were likewise lined up shortly before the site opened, ready to vote.

Linda Adams said she was voting for Hogan because her son is in the National Guard and she does not feel the current administration has helped the military.

"I think Hogan will try to keep people in Maryland and try not to sell us out," she said.

She added she voted for Pat Vincenti for Council District E, representing the Aberdeen area, but otherwise did not have thoughts on any local candidates.

Mike Wieczynski also went with Hogan, explaining: "[Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate] Anthony Brown has taken the oath twice and broken it."

Wieczynski said he thinks Hogan has "a strong Constitutional compass."

He also voted for Republican candidates Glen Glass and Mike Blizzard as state delegates, Joe Woods for Council District B and Dick Slutzky for County Council president.

About 166,640 people were registered to vote in Harford at the close of registration last week.

Early voting will continue at the four polling sites from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 30.

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