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Maryland goes to the polls

Jonna McKone

Marylanders flooded polling places Tuesday as one of the nastiest and most divisive elections in recent memory came to a close. There were long lines at many polling places and glitches here and there, some of them related to Maryland’s return to paper ballots. Scanners broke down in several places and in other precincts, voters waited in long lines to put their ballots through a single scanner. 

Linda Lamone, Maryland’s elections administrator, said her office received scattered reports of voters receiving ballots that had already been marked. Lamone said they received similar reports during the primary election in April and attributed the problem to human error.

She said voters sometimes make a mistake and hand their ballots back to poll workers who are supposed to mark them spoiled, but sometimes fail to do so.

At least three Baltimore polling places that had been the subject of problems in April once again opened late. But one polling place that had problems during the primary-- The Forest Park Senior Center in Northwest Baltimore--opened promptly at 7 a.m. while 40 people waited in line.

Renai Lyles, like many voters, called her experience "smooth, easy and fantastic."

"I got to boogie to work and I got here at ten minutes till seven and I’m out at 7:24," she said. "It works."

Gregory Shorter said things went smoothly for him, too, but he wasn’t happy with the paper ballots.

"I like the old way," he said, "where you just did everything on computer."

There was an early rush at Cecil Elementary School in East Baltimore’s Midway neighborhood where 72-year-old Lucille Hawkins voted. She said it was “very urgent” for her to get there.

"At my age I’ve seen a lot of changes and this this one kind of got me but I made my choices," she said. "In the all the years I’ve voted it’s never been this easy to tell you the truth."

She said she wrote in Sheila Dixon for mayor because "I’ve been watching her all these years."

"I like what she did," Hawkins said. "She’s a smart girl. She went to college. I just like her."

And Hawkins wasn’t the only one. Lamont Dollar, who voted at the Brooklyn Homes Community Center, said he really wants Dixon to win.

"You know, everybody in life makes mistakes," Dollar said.

"So she made a mistake, but she did a good job in her mistakes so I think if she's re-elected again she'll do a wonderful job."

In the suburbs voters were more concerned with the presidential race.

There were 50 people in line waiting to vote when the doors opened at the polling place at Dumbarton Middle School in Rogers Forge.

It’s a precinct where voting has mirrored Baltimore County as well as Maryland in the last four years. It went for President Obama in 2012, and then voted Republican in the Governor’s race in 2014, backing Larry Hogan.

Susan Grieco said that was how she voted, and this time she was supporting the Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

"I’m really looking at the platforms and what people stand for," she said. "And what I think is best for our country."

In Glen Burnie, a woman who identified herself only as Lisa said she strongly supports President Obama and had intended to vote for Hillary Clinton until she got her ballot.

"I voted with my heart," she said. "I’m a Democrat, and I crossed the line today and voted Republican. I like Hillary, but I just think that we need to make a difference and make a change."

And then there was Paul Pope, a legal assistant in Annapolis, who said he voted for Clinton because he has "no confidence that the opposing party could run the country effectively."

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