Although nearly half a million mail-in ballots were requested for the Primary Election, streams of Maryland voters are expected to head to the polls to vote in person today. Baltimore Banner reporters are at polling centers around the state, talking to voters and monitoring any issues that arise. Get a roundup of what they’ve seen and heard below.
What you need to know:
- Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
- You have to vote at your assigned polling place. You can find your polling place using this Maryland State Board of Elections Voter Lookup tool.
- Don’t expect for results to be announced on Election Night. Election officials won’t start processing mail-in ballots until 10 a.m. on Thursday. Why? Learn more in this story from Adam Willis.
- Check out The Baltimore Banner’s Voter Guide which includes candidate profiles and Q & As. You can also find additional election coverage here.
Morning problems at the polls
Some voters reported that their polling location did not open on time. One individual tweeted that her polling place at Chase House had not opened by 7:44 a.m. and she had been turned away. Armstead Jones, Election Director at Baltimore City Board of Elections, said he had not heard about the polling location opening late.
“I’ll check on it right now then,” he said.
When Robin Budish showed up outside the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library at 7 a.m. Tuesday, the polling place was closed, she said. Budish was told by a police officer or security guard there was no election judge present, and so the location could not open.
Budish, a Roland Park resident, was there as a campaign volunteer to represent Mark Edelson, a Democrat running for the Maryland House of Delegates 46th District. She estimated the polling place did not open until 8:30 a.m. By then she had seen “anywhere between eight to 10 people” come to vote and leave without casting a ballot.
”We want to engage the public, to encourage them to vote. It’s so important,” Budish said. “For people to actually come out and place their vote, it’s very, very disappointing they did not have the opportunity to do so when they expected polls to be open.”
Tyler Van Dyke, 26, tried to vote at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Chase House in Mount Vernon. When he got to his polling location, a receptionist told him they weren’t ready for voters yet. Poll workers reportedly had trouble getting into a room they needed in order to set up, Van Dyke said. Van Dyke was told the workers didn’t have a timeline for when the location would open to voters. He waited for a few minutes, then left. He plans to return to the polling place later in the day to try again.
”It was frustrating in the moment,” said Van Dyke, a Democrat and a regular voter. “I’m definitely in a very fortunate situation where I work from home. Coming back to try again isn’t going to be super difficult for me. For some people who have families or commutes or different work hours, it would be much more difficult for them to get there and vote at another time.”
Van Dyke said he was concerned that others across the city may have also run into similar issues.
”Disenfranchisement is a real thing. I feel like elections are really important and should run efficiently,” Van Dyke said.
“For people to actually come out and place their vote, it’s very, very disappointing they did not have the opportunity to do so when they expected polls to be open.”— Baltimore City voter Robin Budish
Jones said an election judge shortage is to blame for the delays in polls opening in some locations. The Board of Elections has known for months there weren’t enough judges and had scrambled to recruit more, he said, “All around the state, the same issue.”
Several judges also called in sick with COVID-19, Jones added. Voters who weren’t able to vote in the morning due to a polling location opening late should try again, he said.
”They weren’t that long opening in most cases,” Jones said. “I heard of some [opening] at 7:20, 7:30 a.m. But I’m moving around and things are running smoothly at most of the places I’m going.”
Jones said he started working at 6 a.m. on Election Day, checking different polling places to make sure they’re open and the locations have enough election judges.
”I don’t just sit in the office. I spot check places to make sure everybody is doing what they need to do and don’t have any issues,” Jones said.
“Things are a little slow but if they end up getting a little crowd, just need to make sure they can be accommodated.”
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, he said it was too early to tell what the voter turnout will be. If anyone has issues at their polling place, they should call the Baltimore City Board of Elections, Jones said. The board’s number is 410-396-5550.
“I hope and think voters will come out and vote today and take the opportunity they have, the privilege of voting,” Jones said.
— Alissa Zhu
Twitter user Lindsay Smith Rogers reported a delay in casting her ballot at Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore.
A quiet start
A slow trickle of voters filed in Tuesday morning to cast ballots at the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library in Mount Vernon. Sharon Jones, the polling place’s chief judge, said turnout so far seems lower than normal, and she wondered if options to vote early or by mail might explain the dip.
”I’ve seen it in the morning where people stand in a line that wraps around the end of the block,” said Jones, who spoke to a reporter as she stuffed manila envelopes with blank ballots.
“Not today. It’s quiet today.”
Jones hopes to see more people around lunchtime or after work.
”It’s important that people vote for the candidates they support,” she said. “We all pay taxes and we should all have input on the decisions made.”
— Jessica Calefati
Baltimore County Board of Elections’ Election Director Ruie Lavoie is overseeing about a dozen workers who are roving the county during the primary.
”They’re checking on polling places and assisting as needed,” Lavoie said. “Everyone is active in making sure Baltimore County voters have an opportunity to vote.”
Lavoie said they have not run into any major issues so far, just a couple of “bumps in the road.”
One polling place did not have “I voted” stickers, she said. So, she sent someone out with a supply of stickers, designed by Maryland students and selected through a statewide contest.
Lavoie said, “quite a few [election judges], at the last minute, quit or drop out for one reason or another.”
Even so, county polling locations were able to open on time and they are adequately staffed for the turnout, she said. Turnout has been small for the primary so far, Lavoie said. “It’s been a steady flow, not real busy.”
If any voters have concerns or questions, they can call the Board of Elections at 410-887-5700, Lavoie said.
— Alissa Zhu
Tanya Williams, 66, and Mark Simon, 62, were the chief judges for Baltimore County precincts voting at Owings Mills High School.
According to them, voting had been been pretty light with the “consistent few” that have popped in every hour. However, they expect it to get busier as time ticked closer to polls closing.
”I remember when lines would form a snake from the outside coming in during early voting and especially on Election Day, " said Williams, who has been a chief judge in Baltimore County since 1996. Williams said voters’ shift to mail ballots is clear: ”We don’t see as many people anymore, but I would say the only significant difference these days is [Maryland’s] method of voting.”
— Penelope Blackwell
What voters are saying
Clarence McNair, 65, pumped his fist in the air and cheered after casting his ballot at the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library in Mount Vernon, his worn, marked up sample ballot in one hand and his “I voted” sticker in the other.
”Voting is what counts. People laid down their lives so we could walk up these steps and cast our ballots,” said McNair, a Democrat who recently retired from John’s Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
McNair said he picked Wes Moore for governor because Moore has a clear vision for how to help the next generation of children. If Moore advances through the primary and wins in November, McNair expects him to address bullying, transportation and violence.
”I’ve been following Wes Moore since he laid the groundwork for this campaign. He spoke about how the children are our future. He won me with that,” McNair said.
His pick for the city’s next state’s attorney is former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah. He said he couldn’t support embattled incumbent Marilyn Mosby because “change has got to come.”
”This city is in crisis just like they say, and we can’t patch things up anymore,” he added. “We really have problems, and we need someone who can fix them.”
— Jessica Calefati
“This city is in crisis just like they say, and we can’t patch things up anymore,” he added. “We really have problems, and we need someone who can fix them.”— Baltimore City voter Clarence McNair
Purnell Carter, 49, of Owings Mills was excited to utilize his opportunity to vote which he deems is necessary as a people.
“Current hot topics like inflation and gas prices are good starting points to consider. But the racial climate for me is most important. It’s critical that we get the right people in office who will focus on equality.”
Purnell voted at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Baltimore County. He went as far as spending all night last night with his family researching candidates to prepare for this day. Carter voted Democrat but declined to say who he was voting for.
George Civic, 66, has been a constant voter and believes a change is mandatory in office. He voted at Bykota Senior Center in Towson. He believes Wes Moore is the best suited candidate for governor due to his views on education.
“With Wes pushing students into STEM fields and preventing school officers from disciplining the kids, I think my great-grandchildren would have a stable school future.”
Dora Carroll, 49, had national politics on her mind when she walked into the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library to cast her ballot Tuesday morning. She said she came to vote in person on Election Day, rather than voting early or by mail, to ensure her vote was counted properly. Her top issue: protecting women’s rights to an abortion in Maryland.
”I can’t do anything about the Supreme Court, but I do have a say on who we elect to represent us at the state level,” said Carroll, a social media manager. “I came out to do my part to keep Maryland safe for women who want abortions.”
June Giggs, 82, also voted at the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library Tuesday morning. Giggs has lived in Baltimore all her life and wants elected officials to tackle the relentless crime that she says routinely threatens the safety of seniors like her, and children, too.
”There is so much crime that sometimes I don’t know what to do,” said Giggs, whose children and grandchildren live in the county and wish she would leave Baltimore. But she thinks former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah can do something about it.
”He goes around and speaks to people and makes a lot of sense,” Giggs said of Vignarajah. “If he wins, the next question is whether he can get others to back him.”
— Jessica Calefati
”I can’t do anything about the Supreme Court, but I do have a say on who we elect to represent us at the state level.”— Baltimore City voter Dora Carroll
Fewer problems but turnout still slow in the afternoon
Digital Harbor High School poll worker Raymondio Goings said today was his first helping administer an election. And as of early afternoon Tuesday, things were going smoothly, even with two fewer workers than his team expected. He thought the city might have a shortage of poll workers when he took a required training course last week and noticed how much equipment was still sitting around waiting to be distributed to poll workers like him.
”It’s been easy so far,” Goings said, speaking about the relatively small number of voters who have shown up to cast ballots so far. “It ain’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
Outside the school cafeteria where voting was taking place, campaign workers waiting for prospective voters to arrive huddled beneath shade trees to stay cool as temperatures stretched above 90 degrees.
— Jessica Calefati
James Nelson held onto a “I Voted” sticker, standing near the steps of Greektown square and event center. The city where he was voting, which he hoped for change, feels different than the one he grew up.
When he was in his twenties, he used to go to block parties in the city. He could walk into any neighborhood, even after dark, he said. The harbor used to be a safe place to hung out.
Sure, Baltimore had its issues; but they didn’t compare to what the city is like today.
”We didn’t have some of the issues that we have now, where you are concerned that [something] could happen to you at any given moment,” Nelson, 48, said.
He named a list of issues that formed his choices in this year’s elections – the high crime rate in the city, the shootings that have become too common, the economic disparity, the state of public schools. He paid special attention to the state’s attorney and governor’s race.
Mainly, Nelson said, he was looking for what the candidates stood for. He doesn’t think he can hold on to what they promised to do, as politicians may not keep their word, he said.
”At the end of the day, it’s about who… has the greatest chance to make change,” he said.
Jacqueline Fields, 59, knows the Baltimore that Nelson was talking about. She spent her childhood in Baltimore, often visiting her grandmother who lived in Canton, and moved back to the neighborhood about six years ago. But it’s just not the same.
The streets aren’t clean, she said, citing trash overflowing and rodents. There are more shootings and crimes in general, but not enough punishment and strict enforcement.
”This neighborhood could be saved,” she said. “This neighborhood can be saved with the right people.”
— Clara Longo de Freitas
Lynn Elliot, 52, was compelled to cast her vote at Catonsville High School Tuesday afternoon mostly out of concern for protecting women’s reproductive rights and LGBT rights. Elliot, a Democrat, said that she supported Gov. Hogan throughout his terms but was much less supportive of the Republican candidates in this election.
”I’m not happy with the Republican candidates at all and they scare the hell out of me, so I want to make sure that we have a very strong governor candidate from our party who will appeal to everyone-- or most everyone,” said Elliot.
So she cast her vote for Perez, who she believes would have the widest appeal.
”I liked his track record, I liked his history, the work that he’s done he’s been in politics for a long time-- he seems like policy kind of guy, someone who might get things done rather than getting mixed up in the whole fray of things,” said Elliot.
— Sophie Kasakove
Robert Portillo, 51, was thinking of his three children as he cast his vote in the Democratic primary Tuesday afternoon at Cockeysville Middle School.
”I want better opportunities for my kids,” he said. “If we can have good people in power, that can happen. That means better education and more jobs, he said, two issues that are important to him. Portillo came to the United States from El Salvador with his sister when he was 11 years old, fleeing a war. Portillo finished high school but said he’s helping his children go further, and wants them to have more opportunities than he had.
An owner of a restaurant, Portillo also said it was important to him to pick candidates “who will support small businesses,” he said. He said he believed Tom Perez would do that - and picked him for governor. He didn’t know much about the state’s attorney race, but ended up choosing Robbie Leonard, he said.
— Cadence Quaranta
”I want better opportunities for my kids...If we can have good people in power, that can happen.”— Baltimore County voter Robert Portillo
Savannah Bergen, 25, walked to Digital Harbor High School to cast her ballot after a nudge from her grandmother, who reminded her that today is Election Day.
“I have a right to vote, so I might as well use it,” said Bergen, a software engineer. She did a little research on the Democratic candidates this morning and derided how tough it is to be an informed voter in an age of partisan takes and misinformation. Most of the articles she found focused on which candidates are likely to win — not what they stand for, she said.
— Jessica Calefati
Dennis Keihm, 69, was convinced to vote for Schulz based on Hogan’s endorsement. The Catonsville resident is a self-proclaimed “Hogan fan,” and said that he liked Hogan’s ability to work across the aisle.
”Most of this is becoming so ideological and one of things that I did like about Hogan was that he was a Republican in a completely democratic state and he stayed popular because he pretty much stayed true to himself,” said Keihm.
He said it was harder to feel as confident about his down ballot votes. He feels that Republican candidates are covered less often by Maryland media outlets than Democratic candidates.
”In Maryland, particularly up here in the Baltimore area, it is difficult to find much on my side of the aisle. Pick up The Baltimore Sun or local papers and you’re going to hear 17 line items on the left side,” said Keihm.
— Sophie Kasakove
“The city needs to be cleaned up,” said Stephanie Washington, a West Baltimore resident who voted at the Pennsylvania Avenue Enoch Pratt Free Library.
She supports Mayor Brandon Scott and Gov. Larry Hogan, saying they’ve both done an excellent job and have earned her backing. Today, she’s focused on what’s best for the city she loves and is voting for Ivan Bates for Baltimore State’s Attorney and Peter Franchot for governor, two candidates she said can “get the job done.”
”I just want the right people to get in office. I don’t want to hear no drama about anyone’s life,” she said, referring to Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Washington said she’s passionate about young people who grow up in Baltimore and would like to see more solutions to homelessness, vacant housing, gun violence and substance abuse.
“We need to rebuild Baltimore - period.”
Kearon Smith, 20, said he voted today at the Pennsylvania Avenue Enoch Pratt Free Library to “make a difference.” He believes every vote counts.
The Morgan State University student wouldn’t say who he is supporting or what issues he cares about, just that he did his research.
“You can’t learn much from the TV ads,” he said.
— Hallie Miller
Kavon Rezaizadeh, 40, used a sample ballot to look up all the candidates that were running in the primary. He looked into their background, accolades and stances on issues, trying to get a feeling of how committed the candidates were to their career and office.
Most of his decisions were more nuanced, he said. Except for the Baltimore sheriff’s race – that one was more of a clear cut.
Both the incumbent John W. Anderson, the longest serving sheriff in the state, and Sam Cogen, a former top deputy, seem to have a commitment to public service, Rezaizadeh said.
”But when you hold up the weight of what’s been done so far, and some doubts about what’s needed going forward,” Rezaizadeh said. “That really put me leaning towards the new candidate.”
— Clara Longo de Freitas
Melva Turner, 75, voted in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, but if she had been able to switch her party designation, she would have voted Republican.
“I’ve had enough of the Democrats,” she said outside Digital Harbor High School.
The lifelong Baltimore resident said she’s looking to move out of the city, and may even relocate out of state, because she’s fed up with what feels like an endless barrage of violent crime. She no longer leaves her house after dark and rarely stays home alone.
”I never thought I’d say this, but I hate Baltimore City,” she said. “I’ve had enough.”
— Jessica Calefati
Harry Benjamin, 45, said the state’s finances need to be better managed, pointing to the gas tax rise. It was a central issue on his mind as he voted in the Republican primary Tuesday afternoon at Cockeysville Middle School. Benjamin voted for Kelly Schulz for governor, because “she’s the most moderate,” he said, and has the best change of winning against a Democratic candidate.
Benjamin said Shultz is very comparable to Governor Hogan, who he likes. For attorney general he voted Michael Peroutka, and James Haynes for State’s Attorney, though he said in the general election he’ll probably vote for Democrat Robbie Leonard. He voted Pat McDonough for county executive.
— Cadence Quaranta
Thomas Murphy, 70, was split on whether to vote for Dan Cox or Kelly Schulz. He voted for Schulz due to Governor Larry Hogan’s endorsement of Schulz. What motivated Murphy to vote in the primary is the issue of crime, and hopes that voting will help remove Marilyn Mosby from the office of State’s Attorney for Baltimore.
— Aaron Wright
Keona Adams, 39, came out to the polls at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School--her alma mater-- for one specific reason--to vote for Marilyn Mosby.
It was important, Adams said, to give her her vote even though Mosby is a “controversial candidate.”
The paraeducator supported the way Mosby handled officers after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and redistricting. Most recently, Adams admired Mosby’s squeegee worker plan, which she felt didn’t just rely on prosecution.
”Prosecution, I don’t agree with. I just hope she keeps on the same road because I feel as though she is making a difference for young, school-age kids. I think she’s trying to keep them on the right path and not really have them sitting in jail.”
When she first started voting, Adams was a Democrat, then Independent and now Republican. She doesn’t see herself switching back anytime soon.
”I like some of the things that the Republicans stand for like tightening your budget, defense…Some of the things they stand for I kind of align with but to be honest I vote for the candidate. I don’t really look for Democrat or Republican, I look for what the candidate stands for.”
— Jasmine Vaughn-Hall
James Holley, 46, voted for the first time Tuesday. The West Baltimore resident brought his son, Jalil, to the polls at Pennsylvania Avenue Enoch Pratt Free Library.
”It was cool,” Jalil Holley, 11, said, sporting a “future voter” sticker. His father said he voted to bring about something different from the status quo.
”I’m just excited about change— any change,” he said.
He said he looked for candidates’ views about education, the issue he thinks most impacts his son.
— Hallie Miller
Acie Spencer, 55, was happy to cast his vote for two incumbents who he believes have done their jobs well in their previous terms.
”I guess the easiest way to put it is in this instance, is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Spencer, about his decision to cast his vote for Shellenberger as attorney general.
“Shellenberger has been in office for quite a while and for the most part, I’m still alive in Baltimore County.”
He explained his decision to vote for Olszewski similarly. “Same deal, first term, no problems.”
”I voted for candidates who had some level of name recognition, some track record,” said Spencer. “I voted for candidates who I thought would be more in tune to make sure my property stays my property and my property stays undamaged, that sort of thing. It’s not that difficult.. There’s not a whole lot of science that goes into it.”
— Sophie Kasakove
Donald Logan, 77, voted for Anthony Brown at Northwood Elementary because one of the issues that needed to change in Baltimore is access to guns. As a military veteran who served for 26 years, he’s puzzled that military grade weapons are readily accessible.
”Who needs them? They’re not made for people to have in their houses. That’s ridiculous,” Logan said. “Jesus Christ, I was scared of it when I had it in my hand. But if I had to use it, I would because I know I was fighting for a reason. But out here, just to have it in your hand? No. You don’t need that.”
Logan also wishes that the candidates he voted for, which also include Marilyn Mosby, help change Black neighborhoods for the better. He was motivated to vote because he wants the kids that he sees hanging out on Greenmount Avenue to have a better life.
”We need some help, because I have six kids and I never had to go through that with my kids because I made sure they were home,” Logan said. “Somebody need to be taking control so they can take care of these kids because it’s not right for them to be out here in the street by themselves.”
— Aaron Wright
Taylor Spann, a Democrat, voted blue today inside the Hazelwood Elementary/Middle School polling location. Even though she’s not as politically active anymore, she always makes sure to vote every chance she’s able to: “I was raised with the notion that all elections are important.”
— Ulysses Muñoz
Hestia Doud, 20, said that as she read up on candidates, Ashwani Jain stuck out to her as the best pick for governor. She voted Tuesday at Mays Chapel Elementary School.
Doud said she likes candidates who have talked about making amendments to the constitution on Roe v. Wade, and said both abortion and LGBTQ issues were very important to her in casting her vote.
Doud said she also liked Jain’s plans for education. “Also on public transit and infrastructure,” Doud added.
— Cadence Quaranta
Jalisa Hunter, 32, came to the Forest Park Senior Center late Tuesday afternoon, motivated by the Baltimore State’s Attorney race. The Northwest Baltimore resident didn’t specify who she voted for but said it wasn’t Marilyn Mosby.
Hunter, who works in the attorney general’s office and is working toward passing the bar, cited a “myriad of issues” behind her vote, including the staffing problems in the office and the number of violent offenders who return to the streets shortly after committing crimes.
”It’s sad, honestly,” she said about Mosby’s job performance. “It’s disappointing.”
Patricia McKenzie said she votes every chance she can. Born in Jamaica, she said she hasn’t always had the opportunity to vote and likes to make good on her citizenship rights.
A probation agent from Northwest Baltimore, she cited crime and education as the issues closest to her. She wouldn’t specify who she voted for but acknowledged that Marilyn Mosby can’t curb violence by herself.
”It takes the citizens to become involved when you experience violence like this,” she said, adding that the “no snitching” culture and retaliation over petty disputes has more to do with crime than who’s in office. “Crime goes beyond politicians. We need the whole community involved.”
— Hallie Miller
- The Baltimore Banner has produced a Voter Guide with candidate profiles and Q & As. You can also find our election coverage here.
- Sign up for The Scan, The Baltimore Banner’s free weekday newsletter, bringing headlines straight to your inbox.
- Listen to Baltimore Banner reporter Brenda Wintrode discuss misplaced voters on WYPR’s Midday today. And read her story, Hundreds of Baltimore City voters placed in wrong district following state redistricting.
- WYPR’s Matt Tacka and Tom Hall will have live coverage of some of the early returns starting at 8:00 p.m. Stream at wypr.org.