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Harford's fair and orderly election [Editorial]

The Aegis

In the recently concluded general election, 111,678 Harford County residents cast ballots, according to unofficial totals published by the county’s Board of Elections.

That works out to 61.9 percent of 180,209 eligible voters participating in the election, by either voting early, voting on Election Day Nov. 6 or casting an absentee or accepted provisional ballot.

This year set a record in the county for a gubernatorial election. Four years ago, 91,825 Harford residents participated in the general election, a 55.7 percent turnout.

If you were among this year’s 62 percent, give yourself a pat on the back. Although we weren’t even close to the turnouts of the presidential elections of 77.2 percent and 82.7 percent in 2016 and 2008, respectively, the Nov. 5 turnout still sets a record for a non-presidential election.

Of course, where elections are concerned, most of us do show up and participate without giving a whole lot of thought to the amount of planning and execution that go into the conduct of an election and the hundreds of people who are involved in that process.

In this year’s election, about 36,000 Harford County residents voted at one of the four early voting locations around the county during the eight days of early voting that preceded general election day.

Another 71,000 came out on election day itself in what were far from ideal weather conditions, as a cold, driving rain fell throughout most of the day. The county Elections Board staffs 85 voting precincts at 61 locations around the county on election day.

A lot of logistical planning and training is involved to keep the process moving smoothly, be it during early voting, or on election day or in the three absentee and provisional canvasses that followed on Nov. 7, 14 and last Friday.

This year, the normally hectic process of conducting the election as smoothly and flawlessly as possible was complicated by the county elections director and his top assistant being placed on administrative leave on Oct. 31, the final day of early voting and just six days before the general election.

The county elections board members took the action for reasons they would not disclose publicly, citing personnel confidentiality, but the timing was such it could have thrown the whole election process off-kilter.

That didn’t happen, of course, and in fact Carol Allred, who was named acting elections director, and the remaining staff at the elections office stepped up and conducted an orderly election from start to finish, one that had its share of cliffhanger races. We heard no complaints about the election and its conduct, and usually if there are any, they find their way to this quarter.

So, a tip of our collection caps to the Harford County residents who voted and the county elections board, the elections staff and all those folks who worked the polls this year. Harford County does elections right – conducting them fairly and efficiently – and this year’s voting was no exception.

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