News Column

Sandy Clears, Voters Return

Nov. 1, 2012

Bethany Rodgers

A steady stream of Frederick County residents wound through a waterlogged landscape Wednesday for early voting, which resumed after a two-day hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Although the turnout was strong, lines were not nearly as long as they were over the weekend, when thousands dropped by the Frederick Senior Center to make their picks for the presidential election. Just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, about three hours before the polls closed, 2,472 people had cast ballots at Frederick County's early voting center, said Stuart Harvey, the county's election director.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley canceled early voting Monday and Tuesday because of the storm. By extending early voting through Friday and leaving centers open for an additional three hours each day, officials hope to make up for some of the lost time. However, playing catch-up also means election judges have a long week ahead of them.

Bernice Miller, a chief election judge, arrived at the early voting center Wednesday at about 6 a.m. and expected to be there until 9:30 p.m., she said

But she likes being able to help people fit voting into their schedules.

"So many people wouldn't be able to vote," said Miller, of Walkersville.

Todd Jenkins, of New Market, came to the voting center Wednesday because he has travel plans that conflict with Election Day.

Dan Beardsley, also of New Market, said he works in Washington, so if he wanted to vote Nov. 6, he'd have to take a vacation day.

Early voting worked perfectly for him, he said, because he was able to telecommute Wednesday.

Beardsley said he didn't mind waiting a few days to see if his election picks are on the winning side. The margins of victory might be so close, he said, that even Nov. 6 voters might have to wait for the final result. Neither Beardsley nor Jenkins said Sandy threw a wrench in their plans to vote.

The hurricane did shut down the polls the day Lynn Murphy, a Frederick resident, had intended to visit them.

Initially, she said, she wanted to cast her ballot Saturday, but she changed her mind after seeing the hubbub around the election center.

"It was too mobbed there," she said.

The storm cancellations prevented her from returning Monday, although she said it was no great nuisance to wait for polls to reopen Wednesday.

Harvey said the early voting numbers so far speak well for overall turnout in Frederick County; he predicted about 80 percent of registered voters will participate in the election.

Of course, voter turnout numbers depend somewhat on the weather, Harvey said.

It appears Election Day will be gusty and chilly but dry, said Carl Erickson, senior meteorologist with AccuWeath A storm system is heading toward the area, but any rain should let up Monday, he said.

Source: (c)2012 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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