Voters in Howard County have spoken, their votes revealing a general satisfaction with the way things are, coupled with a willingness to support enlightened, thoughtful change.
Voter satisfaction with the status quo is illustrated by the sheer number of incumbents they supported and returned, or at least helped return, to office. These include both of the school board candidates who were up for re-election (Ellen Giles and Janet Siddiqui); U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin; all three congressmen representing the county (Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes) and, at the top of the ticket, President Obama, who won overwhelmingly here.
The success of Giles and Siddiqui is particularly telling, as they are both, for better or worse, emblematic of a school board that some had argued needed a shake-up.
As for the willingness to support change, that is evidenced in the voters support for same-sex marriage in Maryland and for offering in-state tuition at public colleges and universities for the children of illegal immigrants. Both those much-debated proposals — better known, respectively, as Question 6 and Question 4 on the ballot — were examples of the enlightened change that has been resisted in other jurisdictions throughout the country. But that sort of change is embraced in Howard.
You could even argue that Howard voters willingness to support progressive, well-thought-out change was evident in their rejection of Question 7, which will add a sixth casino and table games in Maryland. The question, which passed statewide but was rejected in Howard, is change all right, but it is un-enlightened, poorly thought-out change, and state voters would have been wise to follow Howard's lead.
All in all, a satisfaction with the way things are, coupled with a willingness to make sensible changes, is not a bad way to be.
One final note on the election — more of a complaint, really. What in the world takes our Board of Elections so long to count votes?
At one point Tuesday night, more than three hours after the polls had closed, fewer than half the tallies from Howard's 111 precincts had been counted, according to the state Board of Elections' website. At the same time, a half-dozen Maryland counties had complete tallies, and even such behemoths as Montgomery and Prince George's had a higher proportion of precincts counted. In fact, Howard had the smallest proportion of precincts tallied of any jurisdiction in the state.
Howard County prides itself on being a technologically advanced place, and in most cases it is. But you couldn't tell that from the speed of the election returns Tuesday night.