Voters in Maryland began voting in person on Thursday
Voters headed to polling places across the state to weigh in on hotly contested bipartisan statewide races for governor, attorney general and comptroller. Nominations for a U.S. Senate seat, eight congressional districts and a slew of local races are also being decided.
In the race for governor, Republican voters chose between former Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, who has the support of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), and Del. Daniel L. Cox, a far-right conservative backed by former President Donald Trump.
Democratic voters for the state’s top spot had a wider field to choose from, including former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, bestselling author and former nonprofit leader Wes Moore, state comptroller Peter Franchot, former attorney general Doug Gansler and former US education secretary. John B. King Jr.
Meet the Candidates Who Want to Be Maryland’s Next Governor
With a lot at stake, turnout among Maryland’s roughly 4.1 million registered voters was quiet at a number of early voting centers Thursday morning.
As of 9 a.m., only 14 voters had turned up at Crofton High School in Anne Arundel County. As of 11 a.m., the count at VFW Post 8950 Hansen Hall in Prince George’s County was 47. It was also 47 at Urbana Library in Frederick. By noon, 85 people had submitted ballots at the Bohrer Park Activity Center in Montgomery County.
Election officials expect voter turnout in the primaries to be low. In the 2018 primary, which like 2022 did not have a presidential race, about 600,000 Marylanders voted, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Barbara Bush, 83, of Bowie, came to VFW Post 8950 with her husband just before 11 a.m. She had considered voting for Perez because she liked her experience but opted for Moore at the last minute.
“I decided to give the young man a chance,” Bush said. “He seems to be very energetic and ready to help the elderly.”
Bush said she hasn’t been very active in Maryland politics over the years, but “as we get older and need more help, we might get into politics a bit more.” .
Anya Olson, 17, was in Bohrer Park in the early afternoon to cast her ballot in her first election. She selected four candidates for the school board who were in favor of more technical training for students: “I think it’s important, I’m not really sure that everyone needs to go to college” , she says.
Those were the only choices she was allowed to make, though. Olson, who turns 18 in November, registered with the Green Party for his first election, barring him from voting for state candidates in the closed primary.
“I’m much more in favor of a multiparty system, not just two parties,” Olson said. “I think that leads to the current polarization that we have.”
She has yet to weigh her options for the general election, but she worries about environmental issues and the Supreme Court’s decision against the EPA, and said it has been an afterthought for Democrats and the Republicans. “Hopefully we can get one of the other two big parties to be more interested in it,” she said.
Maryland Primary Election 2022: How to Vote, Candidates and More
Jim Bronder, 73, was at the Urbana Library early on a cloudy morning campaigning for county executive candidate Jessica Fitzwater but, unlike in previous election years, found few people to talk to. He put it down to postponed election dates in the middle of the holiday season.
“I’ve been here before,” Bronder said of the library, one of four early voting centers in Frederick County. “There were streams of people coming.”
Bronder, of New Market, voted by mail in the Democratic primary. He voted for Hogan in the last election, but hopes to support his pick for this year’s Democratic nominee, Perez, in November.
Bronder is particularly concerned about gun control after the recent mass shootings. It even made him nervous about going to the polls. “Is someone coming here with a gun?” Bronder asked. “I never would have thought that in my entire life, but this morning I did.”
William and Sylvia Steelman of Urbana shared many complaints about the Biden administration, such as high gas prices, and endorsed Hogan’s term as governor of Maryland. They voted in the Republican primary for Schulz.
“She’s against gun control,” said William Steelman, 80. “She’s for the average person. She’s got a good outlook.
The Steelmans hope to back Schulz in November but would “probably” vote for Cox instead if he wins the primary – “they both have good ideas.” They settled on Schulz early, but the decision between the two candidates was close. “The world is such a mess right now,” Sylvia said. “Who are you voting for?”
Bobby and Pat Sikora, a retired couple who recently moved from Virginia to Maryland to be closer to family, declined to say who they voted for as they left the Crofton High School polling location, but said they were happy with the options available to them as a Democrat. voters.
“I just felt like we had some really good choices,” Pat Sikora said. The couple said they had no real objections to Hogan’s tenure as governor, but would not vote for a Republican in the fall.
With close races expected in a number of contests, the results may not be determined until several days after the election. Statistics provided by the Maryland Board of Elections show that about 500,000 voters requested mail-in ballots. If a large number of voters choose to vote by mail, it could delay the election results. By law, mail-in ballots cannot be counted until the Thursday following the election.
If voters were hard to find at polling stations on Thursday, candidates were not.
U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D), who represents Maryland’s 5th congressional district, stopped at the Crofton High School polling center on Thursday morning, where he reaffirmed his enthusiastic support of Moore’s candidacy.
“We need recovery. We need inspiration. We need someone who can give us a positive sense of government in a positive way, and I think Wes Moore can do that,” he said.
On Thursday, Moore debuted a new 30-second commercial airing digitally and on broadcast cable with longtime friend Oprah Winfrey narrating. “The moment we find ourselves in demands a different kind of leader. For the Governor of Maryland, you have one in my friend Wes Moore,” Winfrey says.
Hoyer said he was disappointed with the low turnout on the first day of in-person voting and hoped it would pick up. “People probably don’t know about it, but they will hear about it,” he said.
Shannon Leadbetter, a first-time GOP candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, was also at Crofton High School. She too hoped to see more voters but remained enthusiastic.
“I got a few thumbs up,” she said, smiling.
Schulz traveled to polling places in Frederick and Montgomery counties to make a final speech to voters. Noting the low turnout, she said her team was working hard to remind voters to show up on Election Day.
“It’s going to pick up,” Schulz said. “We will be busy reminding people to show up on July 19.”
Outside the Bohrer Park polling center, Schulz ran as the only eligible candidate in a primary race that drew attention when Democrats funneled support to Schulz’s opponent Cox.
“If I’m not the one elected in this primary, then Republicans will definitely lose a lot in November,” she said.
Former Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, who is trying to return to Congress in Maryland’s 4th District, used the first day of early voting to announce growing support for her campaign. Edwards was joined by Prince George’s County state attorney Aisha Braveboy at a Fort Washington polling station to announce the approval. Edwards is locked in a close battle against former state’s attorney Glenn Ivey for the seat.
At Hansen Hall in Prince George’s, Del. Nicole A. Williams (D) was one of many candidates waiting to make their pitch to voters.
“It’s pretty slow,” Williams said, “but I’m happy to be here.”
The quiet day was a bit of a respite for Williams, who had been chased by a pit bull while going door to door in Bowie earlier in the week. She came out unscathed.
“Luckily the owner called the dog back,” she laughed. “It’s the only thing that saved me.”
Early voting continues from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. until July 14. A full list of Early Voting Centers is available at elections.maryland.gov. The standard primary election is Tuesday, July 19, and polls will be open until 8 p.m.