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At least 10 percent of eligible Charles County voters had cast ballots in person by noon Tuesday, elections Director Tracy Dickerson said. The number likely was much higher because the county board of elections had heard from only 18 of 43 precincts, she said.
Ten-thousand six-hundred sixty-one voters had cast ballots at those 18 precincts, a figure that did not count early or absentee voters.
There is a total of 106,344 eligible voters in the county, Dickerson said. The eligible voter total is comprised of active and inactive voters.
Elections judges were greeted by lines when the polls opened at 8 a.m., but no problems have marred voting so far, she said Tuesday afternoon.
“We have not heard anything like that. Actually, it’s gone pretty smooth. We’re really pleased right now. The big thing is making sure [that] first thing in the morning, everything is good, everything opens well. And then closing, make sure everybody gets to close OK. We haven’t had any complaints,” she said.
The election seemed to be proceeding calmly on the ground, as well. Election judges at a few area polling stations reported no problems with machines or people.
“Everything has been going very swimmingly. There was no line after 8, the initial rush,” said Chief Judge John McNulty, working the polling station at the Hughesville firehouse.
In the entrance, the judges had posted the initial tapes from the machines, showing no votes cast, to reassure voters worried about fraud, said Chief Judge Patty Williams.
At the polling station at William B. Wade Elementary School in Waldorf, Chief Judge David Thomas was similarly relaxed, joking that “I’m happy. I’m sitting. When the chief judge is sitting, you know things are going smoothly.”
The polling station had a line of about a dozen people late Tuesday morning; when the doors first opened, the queue went “down to the edge of the school,” he said. But the room had enough voting machines, more than during the last presidential election, and people were moving through quickly.
Things were slightly less smooth at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Waldorf, where several people showed up brandishing “I voted” stickers, expecting a free taco. The only problem: The fast-food chain was not offering free food to voters, said a manager who would not give her name.
The restaurant, not wanting to disappoint its visitors, gave them tacos anyway, she said. The confusion had not caused a problem, and the tacos could engender good will, she said.
Democratic activist Maria Aguigui greeted voters on their way in at the Wade polling station. Aguigui was handing voters cards detailing the Democratic line on four referendum questions. A retired federal worker, Aguigui endured the chilly weather because she saw it as her “civic duty.” That, and she admires President Barack Obama, she said.
“I’ll tell you, I love Obama. I really think he’s an impressive person in our country as far as idealism. I think the guy, as a politician, is very clean. He could be doing anything else. He’s gone through so much. You have to admire him for staying calm,” said Aguigui, who also canvassed in Virginia, a swing state, for the Obama campaign.
Christina Bynum of Faulkner was working the polls outside the La Plata firehouse, urging people to vote against referendum Question 6, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.
Bynum picked up the Maryland Marriage Alliance fliers from a Hughesville church early Tuesday morning in hopes of changing a few minds. She wasn’t sure how successful she’d been, as the “No electioneering” line kept her away from the trickle of incoming voters.
“We have, I have strong feelings about our nation, limited government, that type of thing,” Bynum said. “Specifically on Question 6, I feel marriage is sacred, instituted in Scripture by the Lord. My message about the provision is the law provides protection to everyone, and yet marriage, throughout all history, is defined as one man, one woman. I don’t think we should do a redefinition of marriage as it has been historically.”
At the La Plata firehouse, Dawn Greenwalt was voting “just because it’s my civic duty,” she said. She felt “kind of strongly” about all the issues on the ballot and was not motivated by any particular one, she said. Most of the people she worked with also were planning to vote, she said.
Not everyone was at the polls for something political. Cub Scout Pack 1771, which meets at Wade, was holding a fundraiser, as it has in prior election years.
“We sold a lot of popcorn,” said Payton Green, 10.
Outside another polling station, another Boy Scout had his mind on more than popcorn.
Christopher Morse, 11, was standing outside of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School in Waldorf selling popcorn, too, but he said it is important for eligible people to vote “so you can have a say in who gets to lead our country.”
Christopher said to those people who don’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter, “if you don’t vote, it would be like saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to the people that sacrificed their lives so we can have voting rights.”
Staff writer Gretchen Phillips contributed to this report.