SILVER SPRING | Officer causes stir at polling place Updated: 7:56 p.m.
A young police officer in Montgomery County caused a stir on Tuesday after allegedly urging those in line at a polling station in Silver Spring to cast votes against a local referendum impacting police union negotiating rights, according to the Fraternal Order of Police, election officials and civil liberties advocates.
The officer was allegedly in uniform and talking to people in restricted electioneering areas, both of which are prohibited. (State law prohibits electioneering on election day within 100 feet of the entrance or exit of a polling station.)
"That was the one fumble we had out of 130 people working the entire day," said Kirk Holub, a past-president of the FOP who helped organize the union's efforts to repeal a law passed by the County Council last year that ended "effects bargaining."
The issue, on the ballot as Question B, has sparked a contentious battle between the police union and the county in recent weeks.
"Effects bargaining" concerns the unions' right to bargain over the effects of management decisions like schedule changes and transfers. The county has said its top public safety officials need to be able to make management decisions quickly, while unions have argued officers and firefighters should be compensated for certain unexpected administrative changes to their schedules and assignments.
The FOP arranged for its members to show up en masse at polling places and urge voters to strike down the policy, albeit out of uniform and outside of areas where electioneering is restricted.
Meredith Curtis, a spokeswoman with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, said the group began receiving complaints about the uniformed officer pushing for votes within restricted areas at Jackson Road Elementary School on Tuesday morning, and immediately contacted the Maryland State Board of Elections and the Montgomery County Police Department.
Ross Goldstein, the Board of Elections deputy administrator, said the the matter had come to his attention but been resolved.
"The officer was told to leave, he left, Montgomery County was informed and told that was not permissible," Goldstein said.
A police department spokesman said the department referred the complaint to the FOP.
Holub said he checked into the matter as soon as he found out about it, and confirmed that a young officer just off a midnight shift was unaware of the uniform and electioneering restrictions. The officer was not identified.
"It was an accident," Holub said. "We always tell people you cannot wear your uniform. We even made T-shirts of our own." -- By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
SEVERNA PARK | Voting for Mitt Romney Updated: 6:43 p.m.
John Stoughton, a 55-year-old BGE worker from Pasadena, said he was excited about voting Tuesday, as he, his wife Cathy and their daughter Emily emerged from the polls at the Earleigh Heights firehouse. "It gives us a chance for change," he said.
After waiting about 35 minutes to cast ballots, the three voted against extending gaming, against same-sex marriage and against giving tuition breaks to certain illegal immigrants.
"The Bible says that it's wrong," Stoughton said of gay marriage.
The family declined to provide their political affiliation, and Stoughton wouldn't name his presidential choice, though his daughter said they were supporting Mitt Romney for president.
Stoughton said he was troubled by the prospect of more gambling, despite promises that the revenue would be destined for education spending and would create jobs.
"But there's nothing in writing that says it's going to education. And how are people supposed to get that money to gamble?" Stoughton said.
He said he doesn't gamble. "I have better uses for my money," he said, adding that "I go to work, I get money"
For Emily Stoughton, 19, Tuesday was the first time she's gotten to vote. In the past, though she accompanied her parents, she always peeled off the I Voted sticker that she was handed. "i didn't vote. I'm not wearing it," she said.
Tuesday was different, she said.
Stoughton and his daughter sat down and went over the ballot ahead of time, she said.
Cathy Stoughton, a 54-year-old nursery school teacher, said said she found gay marriage objectionable for religious reasons, and that "people just accept things, and don't know where it ( laws that say marriage is between a man and a woman) got started." -- By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun
I-83 | 'Luminous Intervention' Updated: 6:19 p.m.
Motorists driving home at rush hour Monday on Interstate 83 may have been startled by a series of explicitly political messages projected onto a bridge.
The messages urged voters to support gay marriage and in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, and to reject expanded casino gambling in Maryland. A sample message read: “You Don’t Like Gay Marriage? Don’t Get Gay Married”
A group called “Luminous Intervention” claimed responsibility for the projections in a press release. The group identified itself only as an anonymous collective of artists who use large-scale projections to highlight economic and social issues. According to the press release, the group also altered the Natty Boh billboard in Station North on Friday to replace it with political commentary.
The GOP opposes most of the stances expressed by the projections. But David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, was unperturbed by the use of public space to advocate political views with which his organization disagrees.
“It is a great expression of America's founding principles when individuals decide to advocate for their views instead of encouraging others to vote because of fear or for "revenge" as President Obama suggests,” Ferguson wrote in an email. “Whether it is sign waving or anonymous postings on the roadside, this type of non-targeted advertising will have little impact on the outcome of the election.” -- By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun
ARNOLD | A vote for Obama Updated: 5:50 p.m.
The presidential election as well as the gambling question were high on Pat Leffler's reasons for coming to the polls. The Arnold woman waited 50 minutes to vote at the Arnold Senior Center in Anne Arundel County, where she cast a ballot for President Obama.
"That's the most important," she said of the presidential contest, saying that she didn't expect a winner declared until at least Wednesdsay. She voted for Obama in the past.
"I think he's done a good job, I think inherited a large large problem not of his making, and I think he's trying to turn things around. He needs more time.," Leffler said.
Romney's financial background didn't sway her. "I don't like most of his positions, his stance on women, his stance on gay issues, " she said.
She voted yes for gambling, though she isn't sure that the revenue will go to education as ads promised, and said she didn't want the money going to out-of-state casinos -- and that, she siad, could be a lot of money, given the crowds at Maryland's casinos.
"Have you seen the lines at Arundel Mills? It's obviously very popular," she said. -- By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun
COLUMBIA | Thin Mints vs. Samoas Updated: 5:20 p.m.
At Atholton Elementary School in Columbia, three UMBC sophomores piled out of a car and headed for the polls.
First-time voters, they expected to make three stops so each could vote before heading off to dinner and watching returns.
For Gabriel Fishbein, a registered Democrat, voting in the school he attended was special.
"I feel he's a better leader for the country," Fishbein said of Obama. "I feel he's more connected to America than Romney and his job creation program is working and doesn't need changed."
He said he felt it was important to vote for marriage equality and the Dream Act, too.
"If you've lived you life here, you've paid taxes, you've graduated--if you've checked all the boxes-I'm all for it," he said.
Voter Alison Daniels of Columbia said she was suffering from election fatigue.
"I'm over it, over it a good two weeks," she said. "It was just too much. Too many calls. Too many ads. Too many trumped up statistics. And it won't be long until it's 2016."
Outside in the school parking lot, Girl Scout Troop 1266 was settling another pressing issue: Thin Mints or Samoas.
The troop had three cases of cookies to sell and within 15 minutes nothing was left but the brown carton.
"The results are in," said troop leader Angela Wood of Columbia. "America votes for Thin Mints." -- By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
CATONSVILLE | Strong feelings on Question 6 Updated: 5:20 p.m.
Outside Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville, Trish Rhoads, 45, said the presidential race was her top concern. “We want good change for the country,” she said. “Right now we’re going downhill. We need somebody to turn things around.” Mitt Romney fit that bill for Rhoads, who says she’s been unemployed the past two years, unable to find work and fed up with Obama. “We’re going down the toilet,” she added.
Nathaniel Johnson, 54, said he wanted to give Obama another four years, even though he didn’t agree with everything the president has done.
“It’s not a black thing, or white thing,” said Johnson, an African-American who works for Baltimore city. “It’s about getting our country back on the right track.” Johnson said he thought Obama had done plenty to lift the nation out of the deep recession it was in four years ago, including saving the auto industry and ending a banking meltdown. Acknowledging that the economy isn’t exactly booming yet, Johnson said, “He just needs more time.”
Johnson said he parts ways with Obama on the issue of gay marriage. He voted against Question 6, saying he was motivated by deep spiritual feelings. He also voted against Question 7 to expand gambling, saying he thought too much money would go to the casino owners.
For Jodie and Melissa Virago, with daughters Olivia, 5, and Lucy, 2, in tow, Question 6 was uppermost in their minds as they waited for close to an hour to cast their votes.
“Marriage equality ls very important for our family,” said Jodie Virago, 37. “We’re legally married in Connecticut,” she said, but want the same recognition in Maryland so their children have the same rights and legal protections as offspring of heterosexual couples.
“This is our first opportunity,” added Melissa Virago, 36, noting that “we’ve been together since high school.”
Bruce Bromley, 58, opted for expanding gambling, saying in his view, “there’s nothing better than a voluntary tax.” His wife Linda, 57, said she cast her vote to reelect Obama, mainly out of concern over women’s rights and issues.
“I don’t like the way Romney and Ryan talk about taking away rights for women,” she said. “I’m pro-choice.” But Linda Bromley said she also feared that Romney and Ryan would dismantle or drastically change Medicaid, the government-funded health care for the poor. Bromley said she and her husband had a daughter who was disabled and relied on Medicaid for health care. Their daughter died last year, she said, but Medicaid had been her lifeline, and without it many disabled persons would not be able to survive, Bromley said.
“I think people need to have compassion toward poor people,” Linda Bromley said. -- By Tim Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun
PASADENA | A lack of privacy while voting Updated: 5:14 p.m.
At the Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Pasadena, some voters were complaining about voting booths that were arranged in a way that felt their choices could be seen by other voters or those waiting in line. Donna J. Duncan, director of election management, said officials had received official complaints regarding such concerns, in Anne Arundel and Baltimore County. But those who spoke to a reporter didn’t feel pressured or that their votes were compromised.
The real controversy was within the voting booths, where some voters were conflicted on the issues --- or within their own family.
“I feel like the country is going to pot,” said Charlotte Evans, who turns 69 on Wednesday and said she supported Republican candidate Mitt Romney. “We need a businessman in there. We need change.”
But her son, 43-year-old Scott Maxwell, disagreed. Noting that he voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008, he said President Obama has proven himself so far and deserves another chance. He said he found Romney “sneaky,” saying he’s distrustful of his sizable wealth.
Evans rolled her eyes. “How do you think he got to be a millionaire? I want him to take care of our money,” she said. Pointing to her son, she said, “He’s the younger generation. What can I say.”
Steve Kramer, a 57-year-old Republican, said he voted for Romney. “We need to change the direction of things, because [the current direction] is not good,” Kramer said. But overall, he was glad to see high turnout in general at the polls, regardless of how they cast their votes. “This is what this country needs,” he said.
He voted yes on Question 7, to expand gambling. He said he was conflicted. “You’re not going to stop the gamblers. They’ll travel to Atlantic City, or West Virginia. Why not have it here? It puts money into the economy, and at least the legislature will have oversight,” Kramer said.
Tiashia Somerville, 34, voted for President Obama, saying that she thinks Romney is out of touch to the needs of the disenfranchised. Somerville is a social worker. “Not that people should be using the system, but if you’re down and out, sometimes it’s very difficult to get up,” she said. “It’s a cycle that people go through. They’re in poverty, and they stay in poverty.”
She voted “no” on Question 6, however, regarding gay marriage. She said she was unsure what implications it would bring. “For me, if you’re a Christian and were brought up in the church, you’re taught that homosexuality is wrong,” she said.
In 2008, this polling precinct went for McCain, with 55 percent of voters backing the Republican ticket, according to election data. -- By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
SILVER SPRING | Cardin casts his vote Updated: 3:33 p.m.
Sen. Ben Cardin said he was on line at 6:30 a.m. to vote and when he left 30 minutes later, the wait was estimated to be an hour and growing.
"I've never seen anything like it. We're at capacity. We're beyond capacity and we're exceeding the numbers we were anticipating."
"Clearly, the main reason is the presidential ticket and the clear choice voters have. But voters feel very strongly about the ballot questions"
Cardin thinks it will be very late before the national outcome is decided, "but not in Maryland, unless the lines are long at 8 p.m."
His Republican rival, Dan Bongino of Severna Park, said he woke up this morning on the last day of his 18-month campaign feeling he had done everything he set out to do.
"We had 3,000/plus volunteers and 15,000 donors. I'm ecstatic. I know I did the right thing and that we ran a principled campaign," said the former Secret Service agent. "If we win, it will be the biggest upset in Maryland election history. If we lose, I know that I did everything I could." -- By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
DUNDALK | Voting for change Updated: 3:20 p.m.
In Dundalk, residents said they were motivated to vote for change, a concept that divided many voters.
For Dan Krepp, who gave the age of "old enough," Obama represented the right change at the right time -- and that time, he said, has run out.
"We're going over a cliff," said Krepp, who voted for Romney. "President Obama was elected because he wasn't Bush. He did what he was supposed to do, stop the free-fall, and he hasn't done anything since."
Carl Persiani, 64, a small business owner, who ultimately voted for Obama, was still torn as he left his polling place at Dundalk Middle School.
"I'm a small business owner, and my ship is sinking," Persiani said. "But I voted for continued change because to change mid-stream is the wrong thing to do. I'm still torn because it's either four more years, or four years of what?" But for David Ritzel, 55, who lost his job amid the real-estate crash, "and just kept losing jobs after that," the choice was clear after Obama bailed out banks he believed didn't deserve them.
"I want something different," said Ritzel, who voted for Romney, the first time he's voted Republican in his life. "I'm not blaming Obama for the economy, he's only one man, but I just don't like what's gone on the last four years."
Karen Love, 43, trusted neither. She voted for herself, she said.
"I voted to get rid of the louse, and I don't like the chauvinist," Love said. "So, I voted for myself -- I'd make a better president than both of them."
-- By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE | Gay marriage debate Updated: 3:08 p.m.
Over the lunch hour, two white electioneers in support of gay marriage flanked the Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts.
One stood near each entrance to the grand building in the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Mayfield, trying to grab the attention of voters as they trickled into the two-precinct polling place that serves largely African-American neighborhoods.
"It's very coordinated, making sure there's at least one person here all day," said Nicole Stanovsky, a volunteer for Marylanders for Marriage Equality who arrived at the arts center at 6:30 a.m. and planned to be there until 8 p.m., when the polls close.
She and her counterpart were armed with fliers detailing why voters should support Question 6, which would extend marriage to same-sex couples if passed.
"I've gotten some opponents, but that's happened all throughout the process," said Stanovsky, who was bundled up to withstand the mid-40s temperature. No one has been confrontational, she said.
Most of the voters have spoken to her at length so far on Election Day have been supporters of the gay marriage ballot question, she said. Others have passed her by, murmured their support or indicated that they planned to leave that question blank, she said.
"To each his own ... but I just don't agree with that," said Natasha Parker, who is black, of the same-sex marriage question after she finished casting her ballot. She left Question 6 unanswered, she said, because even though she doesn't agree with gay people marrying, she also doesn’t want to stand in their way.
Checking the box next to President Obama's name was her primary reason for voting anyhow, she said: "That's all that matters to me."
That wasn't true for all black voters at the Boychoir building Tuesday, many of whom had strong opinions about the gay marriage issue.
Voter Stephen Wise said approving gay marriage could lead society down a slippery slope of moral ambiguity.
"As a Christian, I am against it," said Wise of Question 6. "It used to be at least if you were gay years ago, you used to keep it away from children out of respect for their innocence."
Eleanor Richardson, who was electioneering for the Obama campaign outside the Mayfield polling place, has the opposite opinion.
"We all should be treated fairly," she said. It's not hard to put yourself in the shoes of a gay person who wants to be able to make financial, family and healthcare decisions with a significant other, she said.
"I don't have a problem with them being a couple," said Michael Dowery, who has a more nuanced view of how gay couples should be recognized by the state. "It's just the marriage thing."
His uncle, Dennis Parker, is not as open to gay relationships.
"That's a sin," he said after voting against Question 6. "Two men or two women getting married? That's a sin." -- By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE | Agreeing to disagree Updated: 2:03 p.m.
At Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School in Baltimore, where about 200 mostly African-American voters packed a hallway at mid-day, several families were among those who waited up to 75 minutes to get to the front of the line.
Family solidarity seemed to keep the boredom at bay, but it failed to guarantee unanimity when it came to certain issues on the ballot.
As Donald Dukes, his wife Carolyn and their daughter Kelly stepped outside and huddled in the wind after voting, they agreed Barack Obama was the only choice for president and unanimously opposed the same-sex marriage amendment -- an issue Kelly said she and some friends had debated in class the day before.
"I have gay and lesbian friends, and I told them the fact that I'm deeply rooted in my own spiritual values, the values I was raised with, doesn't mean they can't be my friends," she said, adding that they'd agreed to disagree in the end.
There was less agreement on the Dream Act.
Kelly said she voted for Obama because he's strongly pro-education, an issue near and dear to her heart.
"I believe everyone has a right to an education," she said.
"As long as they're legal [residents]," her father interjected. "We need to have people following the laws."
"To me, it doesn't matter where they're from," Kelly replied with a smile and a shrug.
Her parents exchanged a fond but skeptical look.
"I thought I raised this girl right. I expect she'll come around someday," Donald said, his mouth curling into a smile, and the family got in their SUV and drove away.
-- By Jonathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun
HOWARD COUNTY | Urging the issue Updated: 1:56 p.m.
At Murray Hill Middle School in North Laurel, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman teamed up with a visiting Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III to urge a yes vote on the ballot question that would allow the opening of a new casino in Prince George's.
Baker said the consequences of defeat would be dire for his county.
"If it goes down for us in the county it means we're going to have to look at making some very tough choices, and that includes layoffs," he said.
The two county executives combined their persuasive skills in an attempt to sway Josh Waxman, 39, who said he remained torn between his desire for economic growth and distaste for gambling. Waxman said he would likely make up his mind while waiting in line.
Ulman's arguments failed with Kate Hanson, 35.
"I like him but I couldn't go along with it," she said. "I don't think it's good to fund education with desperate people."
But Question 7 was picking up a good share of the votes at the Howard County polling place.
"Nobody has a tight to ell other people what to do. If you want to gamble, gamble," said Thomas Marcellino, 70. -- By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE | City ballot issues Updated: 1:31 p.m.
Daton Lynch, 36, a law student at the University of Baltimore, said he was excited to vote for city ballot issues, including against a measure that would change the city election cycle and give the mayor and others an extra year in office.
He called the proposal "a back door" way for politicians to get extra time in office.
Lynch, a Mount Vernon resident, also voted against gambling expansion because he felt too many political deals were cut to put the issue on the ballot.
"It seems like it's not in the best interest of the public," Lynch said. "It seems like it's in the best interest of people with money in their pockets, and people with the power."
Lynch, an independent, wouldn't say who he supported for president.
"I did not vote for the incumbent, that's all I'll say," he said. "I just feel like no one in public office has addressed my concerns...No one really spoke to me."
-- By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
SILVER SPRING | A change of heart Updated: 1:08 p.m.
Ardith Curit's first vote was for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. Her last was for Barack Obama.
This time, while waiting on a two-hour line at Leisure World, the Silver Spring retirement community (pop. 7,000) that traditionally tops voter turnout statewide, Curit confides that she's had a change of heart.
"Romney," she said. "I vote the candidate, not the party. I think he can do the job. He has the experience. He hasn't been sitting at a politician's desk his whole life."
-- By Candy Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
HAMPDEN | Malfunctioning machines Updated: 12:51 p.m.
At the Keswick Multi Care Center, across from The Rotunda, three malfunctioning machines caused long lines to form. About 100 people were waiting in the auditorium, and dozens of others left, pledging to return later. Locals say the polling place rarely sees large crowds.
As the crowd grew restless, one voter ducked out to her car to fetch a case of water. She distributed bottles to those waiting in line.
A few minutes later, precinct workers fixed the voting booths and voters started snaking through lines quickly.
-- By Chris Korman, The Baltimore Sun
MOUNT VERNON | Twin sisters with different votes Updated: 12:41 p.m.
Twin sisters Michelle and Muriel Renner-Lewis, who are 22-year-old University of Baltimore students, went to the polls together at Chase House in Mount Vernon but voted differently on many key issues, including the presidential contest.
"I want to see a change, and I feel like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan might bring it," said Muriel, who isn't affiliated with any political party.
Michelle, a Democrat, supported the president.
"The change is happening slowly," she said. "We shouldn't just vote him out so quickly."
The sisters also felt differently about gambling expansion, with Muriel supporting it and Michelle voting against it.
Michelle said she worries more gambling won't actually help fund schools, but Muriel said she believes it will bring jobs to local residents.
"It's going to put money in someone's pocket," Muriel said.
-- By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
CHARLES VILLAGE | Decked out truck Updated: 12:26 p.m.
In Charles Village some unusual pick-up truck cargo was getting attention from drivers on Saint Paul Street in Charles Village. At a stop light, it was easier to get a closer look at the truck decked out with flags and signs supporting presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. The truck featured a giant elephant statue decorated with stars and stripes.
-- By Leeann Adams, The Baltimore Sun
PIKESVILLE |Ready to wait Updated: Noon
Rachel Lewin figured if she could wait on a long line to vote at Summit Park Elementary School on Tuesday morning, anyone could.
"I'm prepared to wait for a long time, and I'm nine months pregnant," said Lewin, who lives in the Pikesville area of Baltimore County. She had about two weeks to wait for the baby, and probably about 30 minutes to wait to vote. Lewin said she probably wouldn't be waiting just to vote in the presidential election, but the ballot questions, particularly the one on same-sex marriage, made it worthwhile. She declined to say how she would vote on that question, but she said it's "important to me to voice my opinion. If it weren't for that I wouldn't wait 25 minutes."
She stood in the main corridor, the line trailing the full length of the hallway and out the door. That is, the line for Precinct 9, voting in the gymnasium. The line for Precinct 8, voting in the cafeteria, along the same corridor, was either non-existent or a maybe a few minutes' wait -- for reasons that weren't quite clear, as both precincts have about 2,400 registered voters.
"I've never seen it when the cafeteria is empty," said Barry Stabile, a Republican chief judge for Precinct 9, who has served as a judge here for 10 years. He wasn't sure what to make of the line disparity, but it had been this way for much of the morning.
Stabile said the Precinct 9 line had stretched the full length of the corridor all morning, and if it kept up, he imagined "there'll probably be the largest turnout I've ever seen." He said most people were guessing that the ballot questions were bringing out the heavy turnout.
"It's great, it's democracy," he said. "People are taking advantage of what the country offers."
Most folks on line seemed to be taking it in stride, talking on or checking their phones. Some brought books. Sam Son, who immigrated to this country from the Soviet Union in 1979, said he was waiting to cast his ballot against the economic policies of President Barack Obama, which he considered too close to the socialism he saw in Latvia.
"Socialized medicine is one of the worst things for a society," said Son, who works in the medical devices business. He became a citizen in 1984, and said "I'm very proud I can cast my vote what I think."
-- By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY | Voting no on 7 Updated: 11:29 a.m.
In Cheverly, the hometown of Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker III, the serpentine line to vote was 90-minutes-long from head to tail at Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary School.
Despite the executive's strong support for the ballot question to expand gambling, there was some push back.
Pat Nelson, a 10-year Town resident sporting a red "Vote No on 7" T-shirt, handed out flyers on the school steps.
"The amount of money we'd get out of gaming is less than what we'd be putting in in infrastructure costs and potential rise in crime," she said. "The new casino is going to hire experienced people from Vegas and Jersey. Local people are not going to get the high-paying jobs."
Waiting on line to vote, retired federal employee Estavia Mitchell said she still hadn't made up her mind on Question 7.
"I'm against gaming. That's the religious part of me," said Mitchell, wearing a black Obama ball cap. "But as a substitute teacher, I know our schools are hurting and our good, young teachers haven't had a raise in 3 years. When I get to the [voting] booth, I'll hold my nose and make a decision."
-- By Candy Thomson, The Baltimore Sun
PIKESVILLE | A lesson for the children Updated: 10:56 a.m.
Most students were out of school Tuesday, but Woodholme Elementary School in Baltimore County was packed with children eager to get a lesson in civic engagement.
In line, parents answered their children's questions, which included everything from why their parents were voting to why it was important that Barack Obama was black.
Kaye Sullivan didn't allow her 10-year-old daughter Karyn to watch campaign ads on television or listen to them on the radio, so she served as the informant for her daughters questions.
The fifth-grader attends The Cambridge School, which was open Tuesday, but was late to observe the voting process.
"Her curiosity has shot up in the last four years, so she's been bombarding us with questions about everything," said Sullivan. She added that her daughter most wanted to know why the family was Democratic versus Republican.
"She's late today because this is an important part of our history," Sullivan said, "and we're voting for a black president to continue what he started."
Nine-year-old Ben Talesnick decided he wanted to head to the polls after seeing John Ogden in an endorsement commercial from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urging voters to support Question 7, which would expand gambling in Maryland. Benjamin said he believed that Question 7.
"John Ogden really got the kids engaged," said his mother, Robyn Talesnick. "After that commercial, we had been talking about it for weeks." -- By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
CANTON | Long list of ballot questions Updated: 10:20 a.m.
Voters at Hampstead Hill Academy in Canton said they had never seen such turnout. The line stretched down the elementary school's hallways until election judges informed them there were actually two lines, for residents north and south of Eastern Avenue. While those north of Eastern moved right up to the polls, residents to the south faced a wait of at least 30 minutes.
The long list of ballot questions drew many to vote, they said, though it was a confusing set of choices for Patterson Park residents Mike Brooks and Caitlin Brady, who recently moved from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, respectively.
"We're not super sure on some of the questions," Brooks said, explaining that he had read through the first three statewide ballot questions. "The rest, do they affect us?"
Brady, a Baltimore City teacher, said she and most of her colleagues were inclined to vote for questions 4 and 6, extending in-state college tuition rates to some children of illegal immigrants and legalizing gay marriage.
"They're teaching their kids that everyone is equal," Brady said.
A lone electioneer outside the school urged voters to support question 6. Volunteer Simon Belokowsky said he joined the effort a few weeks, first working at a phone bank and then at the polls.
"It kind of kicked me in the gut that other people were voting on my happiness," Belokowsky said. "It got me into gear."
-- By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun
ODENTON | An early start to the day Updated: 9:47 a.m.
The line to vote at Piney Orchard Elementary School in Odenton on Tuesday morning stretched from the auditorium to the gym, where it queued back and forth three times -- unusually long.
"It's tremendously busier than it was when I first did this," said Abraham Perez, the chief election judge on site, who has helped with elections for about a dozen years. "We're approaching 500 now and it's only 9 o'clock."
When he arrived at 5:45 a.m. to prepare, an hour and 15 minutes before the polls opened, "there were people already in line."
Debra Shipley, who lives in Piney Orchard, said she tried to do early voting on Friday night, but the lot was so packed she couldn't park to get in. She arrived at 6:50 a.m. Tuesday to vote. Nearly an hour later, she was only just nearing the sign-in tables.
"I think it's just the overall state of the country," Shipley said, trying to explain the overflow turnout. "At least that's my focus."
Andrea Dawson, another Piney Orchard resident, figured it was either the presidential election "or all the questions on the Maryland ballot -- or both."
In Anne Arundel County, voters had 15 ballot questions to consider on top of statewide constitutional amendments and referendums. Perez said that played a role in the long line. It was taking voters at least two minutes to get through the ballot and as long as 50 minutes, he said. -- ByJamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun
FEDERAL HILL | Long lines Updated: 8:44 a.m.
Outside Digital Harbor High School in Federal Hill, the lack of any line made the wait seem deceptively small. But inside, about 100 voters weaved around the cafeteria waiting their turn.
"I got here at 7 and just finished," said Deborah Chen, 32, a budget analyst for the Department of Homeland Security exiting the school around 7:45 a.m. "It was the line that winds around in there."
It took Baltimore lawyer Donna Senft about 50 minutes to vote. Despite the high number of ballot initiatives, people seemed to vote quickly, likely because they had time to read up on the questions in line, Senft said. Others, she said holding up her smartphone, "are doing like me -- multi-tasking, going through emails."
But Tom Cunningham, a 39-year-old sales manager who works in Towson, gave up when he saw the line and decided he'd return at lunch to vote. "I have never seen it that crowded," he said, adding, "That's great. It's good to see people voting."
-- By Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun