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Howard County Times
Howard County

Howard County officials say voting is running smoothly on Election Day; candidates visit polls seeking last-minute support

Howard County Board of Elections Director Guy Mickley said voting got off to a smooth start in the county Tuesday morning, other than a few ballot-marking devices that needed to be fixed.

”I have my staff out assisting all day long,” Mickley said. “So if there is ever an issue, we usually take care of it pretty quickly.”

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The elections board already counted more than 11,000 mail-in ballots on Oct. 23, according Mickley, who said those results will be released after polls close at 8 p.m. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and increased mail-in voting, he remains as passionate as ever about his job on Election Day.

”It gets in your blood,” said Mickley, who’s served as director since 2010 and worked in elections for nearly 30 years. “It’s just what we do.”

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Columbia resident Dan Newberger, a candidate for one of two at-large Board of Education seats, has been making his way to polling locations across the county, starting with his own neighborhood at Harper’s Choice Middle School. He said he’s nervous but is encouraged by responses from voters.

”Howard County voters are so informed, people pay attention even down ballot,” he said. “It’s always great to engage them. People seem enthusiastic and fired up to be voting today.”

Candidate Jacky McCoy of Columbia, who received an endorsement from the Howard County Education Association alongside Newberger, said regardless of the race’s outcome she will become more involved in advocating for issues across the school system in the future.

”COVID really revealed that we really need to work together,” McCoy said. “It has to be a concerted effort, it can’t be an ‘us against them’ kind of thing because we get nowhere and our children are suffering as a result.”

Another school board candidate, Linfeng Chen of North Laurel, feels positive about his race and has loved the experience of talking to voters at the polls.

“I think it looks really good but until the last minute, who knows,” said Chen, who has three children currently in the Howard County Public School System. “We will celebrate when the official results come out.”

Debbi Fowlkes, who lives on Woodstock Road, voted at Marriotts Ridge High School on Election Day.

Fowlkes, 66, who is retired, is registered as a Democrat and said she voted for Brooke Lierman for comptroller, Wes Moore for governor, Chris Van Hollen for U.S. Senator and John Sarbanes for Congress.

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Fowlkes said it is important to vote in local and national elections.

“We have the president and the governor, but it’s all the other people who are also working for our political system and you really need to know what they’re supporting and what they’re going to fight for and what they’re going to vote for because they’re really going to be the ones to change some things a positive or a negative way,” she said.

Arnetta Gambrill, 77, is retired after working 40 years for the federal government, and said she used to live in Woodbridge Valley, two doors down from Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who is running for reelection.

Unaffiliated with any political party, she said she voted for Ball because she is pleased with the way he handled the flooding in Ellicott City.

“I think that Calvin Ball has done a pretty good job of elevating that water problem,” she said.

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The most recent state numbers show there are 229,524 active registered voters in Howard County eligible to cast a ballot.

Of those, 120,954 are Democrats, 49,011 are Republicans, and 56,199 are unaffiliated. The Libertarian Party has 894 voters, the Green Party has 351 and 134 are registered with the Working Class party. There are 1,981 voters registered in “all other parties.”

About 23% of Howard County voters cast a ballot in the general election before Election Day.

According to numbers from the Maryland State Board of Elections, 26,547 county voters took advantage of early in-person voting, Oct. 27-Nov. 3, and another 26,093 returned mail-in ballots to the county as of Monday.

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Polls will be open today until 8 p.m. Find your polling place at https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/PollingPlaceSearch.


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