Two Harford County voters discuss why they support Donald Trump for president. (David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)
Republican Donald Trump, who pulled off a stunning upset to win the U.S. presidency Tuesday, was the choice of many Harford County voters who trooped to the polls throughout the day
With results tablulated for all of the 90 Harford precincts counted Tuesday, Trump led Democrat Hillary Clinton in Harford, 74,261 votes to 43,803, according to unofficial returns for the county.
With 126,143 votes cast for president in Harford, Trump polled 58.9 percent to 34.7 percent for Clinton. The remaining votes were split among minor party candidates and write-in votes.
Although Clinton won Maryland handily, as expected, Trump made a surprisingly good showing in a number of battleground states from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to garner at least 279 electoral college votes, with 270 needed to win.
Republicans also held on to both houses of Congress.
In races of local interest, Democrat Chris Von Hollen was an easy winner in the Maryland U.S. Senate race over Republican Kathy Szeliga, although Szeliga carried Harford.
Both congressmen who represent Harford were re-elected, Republican Andy Harris in the First District and Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in the Second District.
Also on the Harford ballot was a charter amendment to shift all responsibility for managing county government real estate away from the director of procurement. Listed as Question A on the ballot, it received 60,012 votes for and 47,828 against, according to unofficial returns.
Turnout in Harford was close to 73 percent between Tuesday's voting and the eight days of early voting. Absentee and provisional ballots will be tabulated starting Thursday through Nov. 18.
"We have to make a better world for our children and our grandchildren, and I think he's the only path to be able to do that," Carol Doran, of Whiteford, said after casting her ballot at North Harford Elementary School in Pylesville.
Doran and her husband, David, both voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Harford voters have not backed a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide victory over Barry Goldwater.
David Doran said he voted for Trump because of his stand on securing the U.S.-Mexico border, nominating conservative justices to the Supreme Court and protecting the Second Amendment right to keep and bear firearms.
He noted his son is a Navy pilot who has been deployed to the Middle East several times.
"I think Trump is committed to rebuilding our military," David Doran said.
Coupled with 44,230 early votes cast between Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, that means nearly 101,000 of Harford's 174,334 registered active voters had cast ballots as of late Tuesday afternoon.
Keene and judges at several polling places said voting for the most part when smoothly throughout the daylight hours.
All ages show up
Rachel Riveira, of Bel Air, also chose Trump for president. She brought her 12-year-old daughter, Kirsten, and Kirsten's friend, 14-year-old Ashlynn Ries of Edgewood, to Bel Air Elementary to see the voting process.
Riveira wanted to show the girls "that they have a voice, and that a vote is a way for them to express their voice and determine the future of America."
She said she voted for Trump because "I feel that he has the best interests of America in mind."
"I feel Trump is the best candidate, that the decisions he'll make on behalf of Americans will make the future for my children a better place," Riveira said.
Ed Phillips of Bel Air has voted in every election since President Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected in 1952. He voted at the Prospect Mill Elementary polling place Tuesday.
"Because our opinion, our thoughts need to be expressed," Phillips said. "Since we're affected by the government, we ought to be a participant."
He cast his ballot for Donald Trump.
"No question about it," Phillips said in reference to Clinton. "If we have four more years of Obama, our country isn't going to come back from it."
The Dorans said their granddaughter, Kimmi, who was named Miss Harford Farm Bureau during this summer's Harford County Farm Fair, voted in her first presidential general election and made sure she was at the polls when they opened at 7 a.m.
"We're very proud that it was important to her," Carol Doran said.
She and her husband visited their polling place late Tuesday morning – 519 people had cast votes as of 11 a.m.
Amber and Kyle McCurry, of Whiteford, both voted for Trump. "I think America needs change," Kyle McCurry said outside North Harford Elementary.
He and his wife are 23 years old – this year's election is the second presidential election in which they have voted, the first being 2012.
"People fought for our rights to vote, and as a woman I think that's really important," Amber McCurry said.
Megan Shuster, 26, who cast her ballot at Abingdon Elementary School, stressed the importance of women voting, too.
Her focus was the issue of protecting abortion rights.
"I definitely believe it's important for women to come out and vote on this topic," Shuster said.
She declined to say who she chose for president, but noted she is pro-choice regarding abortion. Trump is not, Clinton is.
"I don't tell other people how to live their life," she said. "I don't think they should tell me how to live mine."
Shuster stressed voters should pay attention to this year's legislative races – Harford voters could choose who will be Maryland's next senator in Washington, D.C., as well as who will represent Harford and the surrounding areas in two seats in the House of Representatives.
She noted members of Congress "could possibly affect my life for the next 30-plus years," long after the next president leaves the White House.
Aberdeen resident Felix Oriakhi brought his two sons as he went to vote at Aberdeen High School. The polling place was one of their stops as they also ran errands.
"I teach them, and then they are learning in the schools," Oriakhi said. "They know the process."
Oriakhi's sons have come to the polling place with him during prior elections, and they talk about political issues at home and at school.
Tom Mitchell, the Republican chief judge at Aberdeen High, said the turnout was "a little bit less" than expected, due to early voting.
"It's been very manageable," he said. "I anticipated it being a little more pressing."
He said there had been some backups at the scanner, as there was one scanner for 13 voting stations, but the paper ballot had been helpful, as it is easier to correct if a voter makes a mistake – elections officials can simply give them a new ballot.
Election officials at Abingdon Elementary agreed the turnout had been steady – 1,181 people had voted there as of noon.
"We were expecting a heavy turnout, and we've been getting exactly what we were expecting," Democratic chief judge Alina Allen said.
Allen said things had been running smoothly with "no bumps in the road."
"Everything's working, everyone's been polite," Millicent Jordan, the GOP chief judge, added.
Time for change
Mario and Melissa Marino of Street, came to the North Harford Elementary polling place with Melissa's mother, Susie Nash, and their children, Aiden, 4 and Addison, 3.
"These two are so smart," Nash said of her grandchildren. "[Aiden] already knows who he's voting for at age 4."
"Donald Trump," Aiden said proudly when asked who he wanted for president, the same choice as his parents and grandmother.
"They're always interested in learning what grown ups are doing and how the world works," Melissa Marino said. "It's never too early."
Trump, who has made his fortune as a real estate and casino developer and reality TV star but never held elected office, has tried to capitalize on the fact he is not a career politician, a strategy that was playing well in Republican dominated Harford County.
"Our country has always been run by politicians," said Nash, a Street resident who has been a dairy farmer for 32 years. "We need to get somebody in that's actually a business owner and knows how to make money and cut people loose that aren't doing anything."