Polls opened at 10 a.m. at early voting centers across Maryland today for the first day of early voting. Towson and Cockeysville polling places were packed.
By 11:15 a.m., 126 ballots had been cast at the Towson University location, one of 11 early polling locations across Baltimore County. By 12:30 p.m., as the lunch rush began to pick up, 332 ballots had been cast at the Maryland Agricultural Center.
Nikki Simpson, an election judge working at the Towson location, said she had never seen such a crowd in the first hours of early voting at that location before.
“I’m just glad we’re having a good turnout,” Simpson said.
Donner Powell, of Towson, said he votes early every year to skip the lines on Election Day. He thinks Maryland is moving in the right direction, and is voting to “keep Maryland straight.” He likes Gov. Larry Hogan, saying the governor running for re-election has done “a great job.”
The longtime Baltimore City resident said he thinks the Baltimore County school system particularly is moving in the right direction, saying his daughter has “grown tremendously” while attending school in the county.
Teachers are underrated, he said, and schools are the biggest issue he’ll be voting on. But he is less focused on party than on people.
“Democrat, Republican, Independent — if it’s the right person doing the right thing, that’s what’s important,” Powell said.
Paula Moriconi, of the Yorkleigh neighborhood in Towson, said she is voting to make a statement.
“It’s such a heated election, and what’s happening nationally is such a heartbreak for our children,” she said.
Moriconi, a Democrat, said she votes in a bipartisan manner. “There’s lots of good people on both sides to support,” she said.
As for why she came to vote, Moriconi said: “They say that every vote counts.”
Saleaha Suleman, of Owings Mills, waited in line to vote at the Towson early voting center Thursday morning to participate in “democracy in action.”
“I don’t usually do early voting, but this time I thought I should,” Suleman said. “There’s so much momentum this election season. I think it’s important for democracy.”
Suleman, who declined to share her political views, said she hopes young people turn out to vote this year.
“Sometimes we take things for granted,” Suleman said, saying exercising the right to vote makes her think of other countries without democratic rights.
“I think we are very fortunate,” she said.
Lindsey Webb, 22, of Towson, said she wants young people like her to turn out and vote in the midterms this year.
“I’m excited to vote for people that make sure my values and the values of my community will be brought up,” Webb said. Those values include education and assistance for people under the poverty line, she said.
The Towson University student said she is focusing on local issues, rather than state or national issues.
Sawyer Ayers-Mutchler, 19, of Parkville, voted for the first time in his life at the Maryland Agricultural Center.
“It was a good feeling to have known I’m making a change, Ayers-Mutchler said, saying he is a Democrat and wants more funding for schools.
“I’m proud both my kids are voting,” said his mother, Julie Ayers, 54, of Timonium. She, her son and her daughter, Sierra Ayers-Mitchell, also of Timonium, all sported their “I voted” stickers.
“I’m voting for candidates who reflect the values I’d like to see: kindness, civility and respecting everyone,” Ayers said. Issues she is concerned about include rights for the LGBTQ community, those who are differently abled and people living in poverty. And, she said, “I’m desperate to see a return to civility and civil discourse.”
Asked why she was waiting in line at the Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park to vote Thursday afternoon, Elizabeth Johnson said: “It’s my civic duty.”
“This is one of the most important elections in my lifetime,” Johnson said.
The Cockeysville resident said she is seeking candidates who promise honest government, including Jesse Colvin for Congress and Colleen Ebacher for County Council. She also said she was voting for Robbie Leonard, Sachin Hebbar and Michele Guyton for the state legislature.
“I want people who care and work hard,” Johnson said.
Sandy Coleman, of Timonium, waited in line for more than an hour to vote at the Cockeysville ag center polling location because “these are important elections.”
The retired teacher said her biggest priority when evaluating candidates is education.
“Education is the foundation of a free democracy,” Coleman said.
That priority gives her pause when considering Hogan’s re-election campaign. On education funding, Coleman said Hogan has promised to “do all these things – but what has he been doing for the past three years?”
Joanna Bell, of White Hall, said she is voting Democrat straight down the line.
“I’m voting for health care, I’m voting in favor of immigration, I’m voting against fascism and racism,” Bell said. “I’m hoping to outweigh every Republican in this line.”
Bell said she was excited to vote for candidates including Ben Jealous for governor and Johnny Olszewski for county executive.
“If you’re not a Democrat, I won’t consider you,” Bell said. “The country is divided and I’ve chosen my side.”
Early voting runs every day through Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Same-day registration is available for early voting only. Any Baltimore County resident can vote at the following polling places:
- Arbutus Recreation Center
- Randallstown Community Center
- Towson University Administration Building
- Honeygo Run Community Center
- Sollers Point Multi-Purpose Center
- Victory Villa Community Center
- Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park
- Reisterstown Senior Center at Hannah More Campus
- Woodlawn Community Center
- Jacksonville Recreation Center at Sweet Air Park
- County Campus Metro Centre at Owings Mills