Long lines abate in early afternoon voting -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 2:25 p.m. Nov. 6, 2012.

George Keane, who moved to Rockville three months ago from South Carolina, was passing out fliers for Republican candidates, though he acknowledges there are not many Republican voters in Montgomery County.

“It is an endangered species, so I’m protected by the EPA,” he quipped.

Keane was at Maryvale Elementary School in Rockville, where the morning’s long lines for voters had subsided by middday.

“This morning, it took one hour. Later, 45 minutes; now 10 minutes or 15 minutes,” said Jose Trejo, who was handing out flyers in support of Question B, a ballot question that asks voters to affirm a county law that changes the way the county police union bargains management decisions.

Melissa Golladay, chief election judge for the precinct, said the number of people coming to the polling place slowed down around 11:30 a.m.

“We haven’t had any problems,” she said. “We’ve had pretty steady turnout so far.”

By 10 a.m., about 600 people had voted at Maryvale.

In Silver Spring, Gov. Martin O’Malley met voters.

“I think the people of Maryland will vote for marriage equality, and I think they will vote for the DREAM Act because we’re a state that embraces the notion that we’re a country and a people constantly growing, becoming more inclusive and less exclusive,” O’Malley (D) said. “I don’t know why, but for some reason, in times of adversity or times of self doubt, that seems to be the time that Maryland tends to move forward. That’s true in times of war and times of peace.”

No line held up Marc Herwood of Germantown as he voted Tuesday about noon at Northwest High School.

“I just want to exercise my right to vote,” said Herwood, 46.

He was surprised the parking lot was empty considering it was packed four years ago. He waited two hours then, he said.

Election judge Arthur Lappen of Potomac said the high school had few issues other than some equipment stopped working. A technician fixed it, he said.

With about 4,000 registered voters in two precincts voting at Northwest, about 660 voters had cast ballots, Lappen said.

“We’ve got a lot of voting booths. It’s been busy, and it’s going to get busy tonight,” he said.

“It’s kind of slow right now,” said Brenda Collins, 47, of Boyds, “but when they had the early voting, my aunt said the line was around the corner at the Rec Center.”

Collins said she waited only five or 10 minutes.

At Takoma Park Middle School, Julia Atwater, 48, said she waited three hours to vote in 2008. This time, she waited only an hour and 15 minutes.

“I’m worried about jobs being outsourced becuase I’ve seen my own category of jobs getting outsourced as of now,” the Takoma Park resident said. She works with the airlines.

Many morning voters faced long lines Tuesday.

Karen Casteolanos said she arrived at Gaithersburg High School about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, excited to vote.

While the 24-year-old wouldn’t comment on which issues were most important to her, she said she is voting for her two children’s futures.

“You might be only one [vote], but there a lot of people who can’t vote, so you are voting for them as well,” Casteolanos said.

Meanwhile at Leisure World, Connie Uchita had a similar sentiment, unsure how long voting would take as she stood at the end of a line of about 120 voters.

“It’s worth it because it is your responsibility to vote your conscience,” she said.

The line at the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda on Sangamore Road was about 45 minutes long as the doors opened at 7 a.m. Election Day.

“We are getting them in and getting them out,” said Chief Election Judge Sue Schumacher, who worked the same poll in 2008. She said she expected a lull in voting between 2 and 4 p.m. today.

Voters seemed prepared for a wait, bringing newspapers and iPads for some last-minute voter education.

Kit Krents, 63, of Bethesda waited 30 minutes to vote in what she said “is a pretty important election.”

“I am old enough to think it is a privilege,” she said.

Travis Martin, 18 of Bethesda, cast his first presidential vote.

“It seems like a pretty simple process. I like the touch machine,” he said, adding that Question A, which changes the Montgomery County charter to make it easier for the county to hire the disabled, was an important reason he headed to the polls today.

At Gaithersburg High School, Beverly Henry said she was in line at the high school at 6:50 a.m. Tuesday and was out the door about 45 minutes later. The Gaithersburg resident, 54, said Questions 6 and 7 — one challenges the state’s same-sex marriage law and the other would expand gambling — as well as the presidential race, are what brought her out so early.

Although about 13 percent of Montgomery County voters chose to take advantage of early voting, Henry said she preferred to come out on Election Day.

“It’s like a traditional thing to come here to the polls and be amongst the people and chit-chat,” she said.

Meanwhile, at Leisure World, Joseph Spund said the election presented a tough decision.

“I wanted to do my duty,” he said. “I was undecided for a while and have done a lot of research. Obama has done so many wrong things, but Romney wants to do away with Planned Parenthood and women’s rights. I decided to go with Obama. I am a registered Democrat, but I vote either way.”

“It took us about an hour, but I thought we got in and out pretty quick,” Ralph Romano said. “This is an important election and this country needs change. I wanted to vote for the right candidate.” He declined to say which candidate.

Election judges reported few issues as voting started.

Carol Housman of Gaithersburg has served as an election judge since 2006. She said the turnout is what she expected at Gaithersburg High School, noting that it was the same during the 2008 election

She said there were no issues at the polls so far, but that there were a couple of issues with the machines that the Board of Elections is aware of.

“There have been a couple of problems with malfunctioning machines, and things are always busy right when you open, but otherwise things are going well,” Leisure World election judge Stu Lillard said.

“One of the machines was DOA, and one failed with the first voter. Without these two machines, people are having to wait to vote, but it’s not too bad,” said Allen Ett, a chief election judge in Leisure World.

Peggy McEwan, Kara Rose and Terri Hogan contributed to this report.