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Harford residents participate in early voting Saturday

Election judges help voters check in to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting at the McFaul Center in Bel Air.
Election judges help voters check in to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting at the McFaul Center in Bel Air. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF)

Saturday marked the first day of early voting in Harford County and in the first hour and a half more than 100 people had voted.

By Tuesday afternoon, a county election official said more than 1,800 residents had taken advantage of the early voting opportunity.

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Saturday and Sunday alone, there were 426 Democratic votes and 582 Republican votes, according to Dale Livingston, director of the Harford County Board of Elections.

On Monday, she added, there were 201 Democrats and 306 Republicans voting early.

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As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, another 139 Democrats and 187 Republicans had voted, Livingston said.

Early voting will continue Wednesday and Thursday at the McFaul Activity Center in Bel Air, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There was a steady flow of people, though it wasn't overcrowded, as early voting got under way for the presidential primary Saturday morning.

The political sign holders and campaigners were already set up outside when the activity center opened.

For many, the convenience of early voting has become the norm. Saturday was also the first time for many people, but not the last. Richard Crisco, of Pylesville, came because he'll be out of town for the primary, but said he will probably do it again.

"It was simple [and] easy," he said.

Suzanne Crockett-Jones' husband, William Jones, both of Forest Hill, will be on a temporary duty deployment during the primary election, she said, prompting their decision to participate in early voting for the first time. Crockett-Jones also commented on how easy and less crowded it was to vote early.

This year was the second-time for Cynthia Phillips, of Bel Air, who said it was more convenient because she works. If she can participate in early voting, Phillips said, she typically does because it's "organized," "quick" and "efficient."

Carl Gutberlet, also of Bel Air, came out Saturday for the same reasons.

With his job, Gutberlet said, he sometimes does not get back into Harford County until after the polls close on Election Day, so early voting allows him an opportunity to vote.

"It just works out better," he said.

This wasn't the first time for Daniel Cassenti either. Cassenti, of Bel Air, said he voted early for his third time because of the convenience.

"It works well," he added.

The weather was dreary Saturday and for Harvey Yale, of Bel Air, that was motivation to come out and participate in early voting. It was his first time, he said, but he will "probably" do it again.

"It is a good day to come out and get it over with," Yale said.

Despite the nasty weather, a group of men and woman stood outside the McFaul Center Saturday morning holding signs for various politicians, including Harford County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Bowen. Bowen was recently appointed to the circuit court, but she still has to run for election to receive a full term on the bench.

Holding a blue and white "Keep Judge Bowen" sign, Bowen came out not only to remind voters that she was running, but also to thank them for voting in general. She planned to stay all day, Bowen added.

A few feet away, Irene Padilla, of north Bel Air, held a sign for her husband, Ed Andrews, who is one of Bowen's two challengers for the circuit court position.

Padilla, too, planned to stick it out in the weather.

"I think it's important that voters are aware that he's running," she said of Andrews, who has built his campaign around the theme that voters should pick who they want for judge and not to rely on the governor, who appointed Bowen.

Standing with the only presidential candidate sign outside the activity center, David Serenda, of Abingdon, said he planned to stay for more of the day and wanted to support Rick Santorum. Santorum is a "principled conservative," Serenda said.

"I think it's just important when you believe in something, you need to put action behind that," Serenda said. "And I believe Rick can be trusted."

Coming from Baltimore County, Paul M. Blitz, who works in Aberdeen, stood outside Saturday morning with fliers for Larry Smith, who is running for Congress, and for Richard Douglas, for U.S. Senate. Both men have military backgrounds, Blitz said, prompting his support.

Blitz served overseas from February 2004 to February 2005, he said, and felt that if Congress is going to make decisions to send men and women to war, they needed people with military background to make sure members of the military receive proper training, equipment and medical treatment.

Helen Ryan, of Abingdon, and Mary Cook and Bill Leasure, both of Edgewood, all showed their support for Nancy Jacobs, who is running for Congress. For Ryan, standing outside in support for Jacobs is part of something she learned a "long time ago" that a person can work and get nothing, but should still try.

Primary election day is Tuesday, April 3 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For updates on early voting and the Harford County Board of Elections in general, a Twitter account has been set up at @HarfordVotes.

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