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Level Election Judge: 'I've Never Seen It This Busy'

Havre de Grace officials said there were many first-time voters at the polls, which were more packed than usual.

Election officials in Havre de Grace said voter turnout Tuesday has been "monumental" and busy to the point of being flabbergasting.

The line at Havre de Grace High School was to the door at 7 a.m., said election official Greg Rowland, a registered Democrat, and turnout has been “monumental compared to the primary."

At Meadowvale Elementary School, there were 100 people waiting in line when the doors opened at 7 a.m., according to Republican Chief Election Judge George Deibel. The precinct had 1,300 voters come through by 5 p.m.

"It's been a steady crowd," Democratic Chief Election Judge Zilpha Smith said of Meadowvale. "We have been busy since 7 a.m. This is the biggest turnout I've seen."

Other officials echoed the sentiment.

“We’re just flabbergasted at the turnout,” Nancy Lynch, Republican chief election judge at the Level Fire Company, said. “I’ve been voting here for 30 years, and I’ve never seen it this busy.”

Lynch noted there were a lot of first-time voters at Level Tuesday, and said she had a feeling it was the ballot questions that drew voters to the polls.

In Maryland, there were statewide ballot questions asking voters to decide on a number of issues, most prominently regarding in-state college tuition for undocument immigrants who meet certain requirements, same-sex marriage and expanded gaming.

When people had questions for election officials, she explained, they usually wanted to double-check that they had answered state ballot questions in the correct columns.

Brandon Frazier, 22, a registered Republican, said he came to the polls at Level Fire Company to “get Obama out of office.” As for the ballot questions, “I voted no on all of them,” Frazier said.

After he voted at Havre de Grace Middle School, Al Girard, 71, told Patch he voted "to try to get a new president." Girard, who identified himself as a retired military man who served in Vietnam, said he voted for Republican Mitt Romney.

Democrats Mel Hagan, 70, and Christine Kovach, 64, wore matching hats to the polls at Havre de Grace High School that said: “I am the 47%.”

Both live in St. Johns Commons, an affordable housing community for older adults in Havre de Grace, and Hagan said she was offended by presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's statement that 47 percent of people who accepted government assistance were takers. "Don't tell me that," Hagan said. "That's offensive."

Most election officials voted early and said they thought a chunk of citizens did too, based on media reports. According to ExploreHarford.com, nearly 7 percent of Harford County registered voters cast their ballots during early voting.

“I thought more people voted early,” said Michael Finkelstein, chief Republican election judge at Havre de Grace Middle School. He figured the precinct would not be too busy as a result.

On the contrary, “this is the busiest I’ve seen it,” said Finkelstein, standing next to a man who said he waited 45 minutes to get to the head of the line at Havre de Grace Middle School.

There was no wait at Roye-Williams Elementary School, where Republican Chief Election Judge Joyce Stevens said that despite the deserted atmosphere of the polling place, voter turnout was quite high.

“We’re a small precinct,” Stevens explained. The precinct includes 494 registered voters, and Stevens said, “we had more than usual come to vote.” 

In fact, by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 to 40 percent of those registered in the precinct had voted, Roye-Williams election official Ed Shull said. That didn't include early voting.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

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