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Slow but steady voter turnout in Aberdeen, Havre de Grace

Election judge Joanne McAuley, right, helps voter Genevieve Snodgrass get checked in before casting her vote at Havre de Grace Elementary School Tuesday afternoon.
Election judge Joanne McAuley, right, helps voter Genevieve Snodgrass get checked in before casting her vote at Havre de Grace Elementary School Tuesday afternoon. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Cynthia Bagamsah, who was born in Ghana and lives in Aberdeen, makes sure she exercises her right as a U.S. citizen to vote.

"As a citizen, it's important to come out and vote, and then vote for the person you like," she said.

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She noted, however, as she stood outside her polling place at the Level Volunteer Fire Company Tuesday, that she has heard other people from foreign countries who live in the United States say they do not vote in local elections, since they are not from the U.S.

"It's really important to vote, because you live here now," Bagamash said.

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Nearly 650 people had cast their Election Day ballots by noon Tuesday at the Level Fire Company, one of the polling places that experienced higher turnout in the Aberdeen and Havre de Grace areas. It is also one of the larger precincts in the area.

Roxanne Lynch, a chief Republican election judge at Level and a former member of outgoing County Executive David Craig's cabinet, said about 25 people were lined up outside the fire hall before the polls opened at 7 a.m., and her polling place opened 10 minutes early once workers were ready.

"It's been great to see this many people come out," Lynch said, as a steady stream of lunchtime voters came in and out.

Early turnout was lower Tuesday at polling places at Aberdeen High School and Havre de Grace Middle School.

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Sheets of paper showing the number of voters who had visited each hour were posted on the doors of each polling place; while 648 voters had been to Level as of noon, only 358 people visited Havre de Grace Elementary as of the same time.

The tallies showed 260 voters had been to Aberdeen High as of 11 a.m.

"It's been kind of sparse," Aberdeen resident Al Smith, who was volunteering for Republican sheriff candidate Jeff Gahler at Havre de Grace Elementary, said of the turnout.

"Hopefully, after the workday ends, it'll pick up," Smith continued.

Carmen Cianelli, of Havre de Grace, stepped out of the passenger side of a vehicle and walked toward the front entrance of the school to cast his ballot.

"I'm a citizen. That's what I have to do," he said about voting.

Steve Bodway, of Belcamp, who was also holding a sign and wearing a T-shirt on Gahler's behalf, stood near the Paradise Road entrance to Aberdeen High School with Kyle Lacey, of Aberdeen, who was stumping for councilman Richard Slutzky, the Republican candidate for president of the Harford County Council. With them was Tracey Stamper, of Bel Air, a volunteer for incumbent Harford State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly, running for a ninth term.

They waved to drivers as they pulled into the school parking lot; drivers came in sporadically.

"It's slow; it's steady," Bodway said of the turnout. "It's been like this the whole day, but people are voting; that's the important thing."

Wardell Henderson, a chief judge, said his goal was at least 500 voters for the day at AHS. He noted that he was giving Harford County voters "the benefit of the doubt," considering the high turnout for early voting, in which more than almost 11 percent of the county's 164,000 registered voters cast ballots in eight days.

"If we get over 500, I'll think we did outstanding," he said.

Campaign volunteers and candidates also gathered closer to the main entrance of the school. Signs for local, statewide and congressional candidates could be seen around the parking lot and school entrances.

Rachel Gauthier, who is running against incumbent Harford Board of Education member Arthur Kaff in the Aberdeen area, greeted voters with her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe.

They handed out "apple ballots," red paper ballots shaped like an apple with the names of county, legislative and gubernatorial candidates who are recommended by the Harford County Education Association, the county's teachers union.

Chloe, a third grader at Prospect Mill Elementary School near Bel Air, said some voters took the apple ballot, and others said they had already made up their minds.

"Some people actually just brought their own apple ballots, which I thought was a pretty smart idea," she said.

Chloe said she and her 5-year-old brother have been helping their mother with her campaign, including putting up signs.

"We both really love doing this," she said.

While Barry Glassman, the Republican nominee for county executive, remained in motion Tuesday, driving around to polling places and handing out sandwiches, chips and drinks to volunteers for the various campaigns, his mother and niece remained stationary across from the Level Fire Hall, where Barry Glassman got his start in politics as a member of the fire company three decades ago.

Louise Glassman and her 16-year-old granddaughter, Taylor, sat in the bed of a pickup truck across Level Village Road from the fire hall.

Barry Glassman campaign signs were attached to the truck, and the pair watched the activity at the polling place.

"I've been doing this ever since he's run for public office," Louise Glassman said of her son, who has been in politics since 1990, when he was elected to the first of two terms on county council, before moving on to the House of Delegates and then the State Senate.

Taylor Glassman, a junior at Havre de Grace High School, said she has been going to events with her grandmother and put out signs.

"I like it," she said of campaigning. "I don't know if I'd go into politics, though."

Taylor said she plans to go into nursing, but would take the lessons from the campaign trail with her.

"I guess it's good, either way, to be in contact with so many different types of people," she said.

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