Morgan State University’s Hurt Auditorium is one of eight early voting centers in Baltimore City that opened its doors to hundreds of voters on Oct. 26.
By Jessica Dortch
AFRO News Editor
This year’s election has already broken records for its enormous turnout, with over 58 million ballots cast as of Oct. 25. According to the Associated Press, that number is reportedly more than the number of people who voted early or absentee in 2016’s presidential election. For Marylanders, in-person early voting began on Oct. 26, bright and early at 7 a.m. Eight locations around Baltimore City, and 11 locations in Baltimore County, opened their doors to a generous socially distanced crowd who stood in line with pride as they waited to cast their ballot.
Although this year has been eventful and the times are unprecedented, more Americans are starting to pay attention to politics at all levels of government; now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this country to its knees; putting a spotlight on disparities across the board in terms of healthcare, employment and housing, all deemed the result of systemic racism.
The current administration has done the very least to ease concerns about voter suppression, and we are just days away from Election Day. In Baltimore, voters understand the importance of their civic right. “This election means a lot to me because we need to restore order at the highest level of government,” said Alvin Thorpe, Baltimore resident and voter.
This year, in the midst of the pandemic, voters can cast their ballots by mailing them to the board of elections, placing the ballot in one of several official drop box locations or voting in-person at local voting centers. The ongoing controversy about the integrity of the election has some voters questioning whether their vote will make a difference. Thorpe, however, was confident in masking up and heading to Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) to vote.
Alvin Thorpe voted at Baltimore City Community College, one of eight voting center locations around the city. Thorpe is confident that his vote matters.
“By me going in person, my vote will not only be counted, but it will matter. Although there’s a lot going on with the mail-in ballot and the drama with that, I believe my vote matters,” Thorpe explained.
There is also a record-breaking number of first timers and new voters, like 21-year-old Omari Clash, in this election. “It was weird with the masks and stuff,” Clash said referring to the COVID-19 mandatory mask and social distance regulations.
The Baltimore resident was excited to vote in-person at the Woodlawn Community Center in Woodlawn, Md., but was a bit indifferent on electing local officials and ballot questions about policy. “I didn’t know what I was reading,” Clash admits.
When asked if he wished he’d known more about what was on the ballot, Clash said he is now interested in learning more about local government. “If I’m going to vote for something then I would want to have more information about it,” he said.
All year, especially since COVID-19 hit, local and national officials, including Democratic favorites former White House royalty Barack and Michelle Obama, have been adamant about creating and executing a voting plan. On the local level, social organizations and media outlets alike have held forums around voter education and helping citizens make informed decisions on the ballot.
Now that early voting centers are open, Clash encourages those who haven’t already voted to hit the polls in person. “It’s easy access. Just go in-person and get it done because it’s so important.?