Long lines, cold weather and some voting unit complications couldn’t deter hundreds of local residents from casting their ballots Tuesday morning.
At Central Middle, one of the largest polling stations in the area representing two precincts, voter turnout literally doubled from 8 to 9 a.m., and left the location’s chief election judges quite impressed.
“This is the largest amount of people I’ve ever seen,” chief judge Mary Fenton said, in relation to the early morning voter turnout.
At 8 a.m., 188 voters had cast their ballots at Central Middle. By 9 a.m., that number increased to 364.
At both Central Middle and South River High, more than 45 people consistently filled the hallways waiting to vote—their shoes still wet from the morning dew. However, despite the long lines, voters seemed optimistic and relatively pleased with how quickly the lines moved. At about 10 a.m., people at Central Middle were waiting 25 to 35 minutes. South River High’s line was moving a little slower though.
South River High’s chief election judge Luisa Wayson said she and her staff were thrilled by the large turnout, even if it meant being “swamped” ever since the polls opened.
“This is a huge increase [since 2008],” Wayson said. “ This line was wrapped around down the hallway and it has not slowed down. All nine units are occupied at all times. There has not been a lull at all.”
Despite a hectic day at the polls, Wayson and her volunteers said they’re “thrilled” to see so many people vote. Wayson added that people on Tuesday morning were some of the most informed and prepared voters she’s seen in her 16 years of serving as an election judge.
“[The high turnout] shows that people, they’ve been stirred out of their apathy. They feel that their vote is actually going to count,” Wayson said.
As of 9 a.m., South River High had seen 219 people vote, she said. At 10 a.m., two of the voting units at the high school went down, leaving the volunteers there with only seven left for the time being.
Perhaps one of the more confusing parts of Election Day around town has been the voting situation at the South County Senior Center and the Edgewater Library.
Both represent individual districts, but because they’re so close to one another, voters are waiting outside for 20-30 minutes before realizing they are supposed to vote at the adjacent building. For those unsure about where to vote, be sure to check out the Maryland Board of Election’s voter location website.
Voter lines and waiting might be the theme of the day, but when it’s all over, voters said they’re just excited to see what happens.
“Now it’s just time to go home and be anxious for the day,” one voter said casually as she walked out of Central Middle.