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Record Numbers of Maryland Voters Cast Ballots Early

Rachel Baye

A record 222,000 voters cast ballots during the early voting period that ended Thursday. About six percent of eligible, active voters cast ballots early, a slight increase over early voting during the last gubernatorial primary in 2014, but a slight decrease from the presidential primary in 2016.

About 49,000 Marylanders — one in every five who voted early — cast their ballots on Thursday. About 5 percent of Republican voters and about 8 percent of Democrats cast ballots.

Zeevelle Nottingham-Lemon, who lives in Edmondson Village, was among that 8 percent of Democrats. Speaking outside an early voting center in Downtown Baltimore Thursday, she said she wasn’t really excited about any of her options.

“Excited is like a overstatement I think probably,” she said. “I’m excited at the prospect of being able to like move on from the Hogan era, so I think Ben Jealous is like the best prospect for that, and I like am a fairly progressive person and so, sure, that’s like the closest thing that looks like excitement.”

Fells Point resident Robert Johnson, like many other voters, shared that lack of excitement about the governor’s race in particular.

“Everything seemed flat this year for me. I wasn’t really excited about any particular candidate,” he said. “I’m really more interested in the general because that’s when I think I’ll really have a good understanding of what’s going to affect Baltimore City, as well as the state of Maryland.”

Pigtown residents Aaron Litz and Raquel Zuniga frantically poured over their sample ballot outside the polling place trying to decide who to vote for in the governor’s race.

Litz said his first choice was former Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin, but she dropped out of the race last week. He and Zuniga batted around names — in addition to Jealous, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and attorney Jim Shea were both options.

“I’m very torn,” Zuniga said.

She joked that Thursday was a test run, and that she might return to vote on Tuesday once she’s made up her mind.

“This was like, ‘Am I ready?’ ‘Nope you’re not,’” she said. “Another good reason to have early voting. That way you do have a second chance to come back and actually do the real thing.”

Litz went into the polls a few minutes later, while Zuniga continued to hem and haw before eventually following.

Coppin Heights resident Tyeisha Blair was one of several people who said they had planned to vote for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz before he died suddenly last month. She said she voted for Baker, despite lacking a strong preference for him over his opponents.

Like many voters interviewed, she had stronger opinions on the race for Baltimore City State’s Attorney. She said she was excited to vote for Ivan Bates over incumbent Marilyn Mosby.

“I believe that he knows what to do. I believe he knows the job,” she said. “I know for a fact that Marilyn Mosby when she got into office four years ago, she was going to be learning on the job, and that’s not the type of position where we need somebody who’s learning on the job in the state’s attorney.”

Daniel Horton, of East Baltimore, said he was excited to vote for Mosby.

“She’s the only one who actually took on the Baltimore City Police Department,” he said.

West Baltimore resident Reginald Johnson agreed.

“She got balls. I can’t find balls in Congress. I can’t find balls in most of my senators. Right? And here there’s a woman that has the temerity to do what’s right,” he said.

The polls will be open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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