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At Polls, Maryland Voters Say They Want Change

Rachel Baye

More than 475,000 Marylanders voted Tuesday, adding to the 2.2 million who voted before Election Day, either in person or via mail-in ballot. As voters waited in line on Election Day, many said they were there seeking an end to the divisiveness felt across the country.


Not long before the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Paul Johnson and his 28-year-old son — also named Paul Johnson — waited in line outside the vote center at Morgan State University. 


The elder Johnson, who has cancer, said he already voted by mail for Democrat Joe Biden. But he came with his son, who has never voted before.


The younger Johnson said he was moved to vote for the first time because of the division he sees across the country.


“It’s the way people are treating each other, and it’s one side versus another side,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be like that.”


Latoya McCleod sprinted to the back of the line at 7:59 p.m., just before the polls closed. She said she works two jobs — she owns her own salon and works at a nursing home — so finding a time to vote was tough, but important.


“As African Americans, we feel as though nothing is really meant for us,” she said. “We feel as though America wasn't really for us. But we're here, so we can help make a change — we have to do it.”


Of course, not everyone at the polls was looking for change. 


“I'm a Trump supporter all the way,” said Del Calibuso. “He’s bringing jobs back in America. Despite his unregulated mouth, but I believe we are in the right track.”


Across town at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Mimi Debebe was just as strong in her convictions in favor of change.


“In America, we are a very inclusive, diverse and resilient nation, and I believe in our democracy,” Debebe said. “I think we can do better than this, and we are going to do better.”


She said voting is a privilege and a responsibility.


Waiting in the same line outside Camden Yards, David Traub also spoke about responsibility. He said it is his responsibility as an American to vote for Trump, even though he said he knows he will be out-voted in Maryland, where registered Democrats drastically outnumber registered Republicans.


“You don't have to be a perfect person to be president. And he's not perfect, and he makes mistakes, and he says stupid things and tweets stupid things,” Traub said of Trump. “But I think he’ll give the country the best shot for the next four years.” 


While Debebe and Traub waited in line at Camden Yards, two men played drums nearby. One of the men, Frank McCraw, said they had been at Camden Yards since 10:30 Tuesday morning “to raise a high vibration on today, send out good energy.”


McCraw said he hoped his playing would prevent people from abandoning the long line without casting a ballot.


Volunteers from the organization Baltimore Votes handed out water and snacks at Camden Yards, as well as other voting sites throughout the city. Other volunteers offered masks and hand sanitizer. At Morgan State University, volunteers offered glow sticks to voters as they entered the polling site and t-shirts and pizza to voters on their way out.

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