Time to vote: Politicians, nonprofits urge Marylanders to get to the polls no matter the weather

The Greater Baltimore Urban League is pledging free rides to the polls for hundreds of voters. The NAACP is asking each of its members to bring five people with them when they vote. And political campaigns for races large and small aren’t resting until the races are called Tuesday night.

With thunderstorms in the forecast Tuesday, political and nonpartisan operations alike are in overdrive to get hundreds of thousands of Maryland voters to the polls.

“We’re certainly not going to let the rain stop us from voting,” said Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan met Monday with voters in Baltimore County and the Washington suburbs, and his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, kicked off a series of stops to fire up his campaign volunteers in Rockville.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at more than 2,000 precincts across the state.

More than 660,000 people voted during Maryland’s early voting period from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, but elections officials anticipate that twice that number could turn out on Election Day.

In addition to the gubernatorial race, there are competitive campaigns for large county executive seats — including Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties — a slew of pivotal General Assembly races and some closely watched federal contests, including in the 1st Congressional District, where Democratic challenger Jesse Colvin is taking on Republican Rep. Andy Harris.

Voters statewide will be asked to decide two ballot questions: whether to create a “lockbox” to require casino revenues to go toward education and whether there should same-day voter registration on Election Day, as there is during early voting. In Baltimore City, voters are being asked to approve nine measures, including creation of a fund to allow public financing of city campaigns and a ban on privatization of the municipal water system.

Little held a news conference Monday at the Urban League’s West Baltimore headquarters, where the first 200 people to call 410-523-8150 on Tuesday will get a free Lyft ride to their polling place.

“Please, y’all, do not go to the polls by yourself,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said at the news conference. “Take somebody with you. In fact, take a few people with you. … Folks died for your right to vote. Folks marched for your right to vote. Folks prayed for your right to vote. We need you.”

Hogan began his final day of campaigning Monday at the Boulevard Diner, a popular spot in Dundalk that’s a favorite hangout for Republicans. Campaign staff planted signs for Hogan and Baltimore County executive candidate Al Redmer Jr. around the outside of restaurant.

The governor worked the dining area, greeting diners and posing for photos.

After making his rounds, Hogan sat down to breakfast with local elected Republicans and candidates to fuel up for his next stop: greeting voters at a Metro station in the Washington suburbs.

Meanwhile, Jealous, sporting a new haircut, stopped by a Democratic campaign office in Rockville to thank and encourage about two dozen volunteers — one of several such events on the day before the election.

The former NAACP president said the campaign made about a half-million phone calls over the weekend — aiming to get Democratic voters who haven’t voted already to the polls. He said that was four times the number of calls made the weekend before.

Jealous said his campaign had more than 50 organizers in the ground in Maryland. He said that compares with fewer than 15 for the losing 2014 campaign of Democratic nominee Anthony Brown.

Jealous planned to start his day Tuesday by voting in Pasadena. Hogan scheduled a morning appearance at an Annapolis restaurant. In the evening, Jealous will gather with supporters in Baltimore to await the returns, while the governor and Harris will be at an Annapolis party.

Several nonpartisan organizations in the Baltimore area said they have revved up efforts to encourage voter turnout.

Among them are Maryland Communities United, which shuttled voters to the polls during early voting and has distributed a phone number that people in need of rides can call, spokeswoman Nabeehah Azeez said. The group says people needing a ride to the polls on Election Day should call 443-338-3768.

Maryland has more than 3.9 million registered voters, including more than 2.1 million Democrats and 1 million Republicans. About 700,000 voters are registered as unaffiliated.

Through early voting, about 270,000 more Democrats than Republicans cast ballots.

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