By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite an incessant rain on Election Day, Marylanders continued a vigorous voting pattern after record-breaking early voting and West Baltimore was not exempt from the electoral zeal.
According to the State Board of Elections, 16.7 percent of eligible voters cast an early vote in Maryland, which is up from 8.3 percent in 2014. In all, more than twice as many Maryland voters, 661,276 cast early votes than in 2014, when only 307,646 voted early.
A volunteer prepares to hand out stickers to voters. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
When I reported to the West Baltimore polling place, Gwynns Falls Elementary, School 60, that I have voted at for about 30 years, it was bustling at 7:30 a.m. In fact, every available voting space was occupied with a steady stream of people flowing into the school’s gymnasium, definitely unusual for a midterm election, especially one where so many had already voted early. What was also unusual was it wasn’t just elder Black women (with a sprinkling of elder men) casting their votes early in the morning, which has been the pattern for many years; there were many younger women (my hypothesis is most were under 40) who cast votes this morning. At least half of the women were in that age range, several mothers brought their daughters with them to vote. Unfortunately, I only saw one younger man voting during the early morning hours.
“It’s not like the last election,” said Ms. Greer, an election official referring to 2016. “With all the hoopla, people are coming out.”
However, I was hit with a disturbing experience almost as soon as I entered the elementary school gym. When I stepped to the desk to be directed to the section corresponding with my name, the election worker said something I had never heard before, “Where is your ID?” she said. I immediately replied, I’ve been voting here for 30 years and nobody has ever asked me for an ID. With that, another election worker stepped in and pointed me towards the other side of the gym. I gave them my name and I voted as I normally do. However, how many first time voters, or those who do not know that it is illegal in Maryland for an election worker to ask a registered voter for identification, will be deterred from casting their vote? Unfortunately, there have been other scattered reports of voting issues across the state during early voting. My friend Sylvester Short also voted this morning and he said there was some confusion at his polling place, Dallas F. Nicholas Elementary School 39, in East Baltimore.
“My precinct didn’t open on time. It opened about 7:35 a.m., so there was a long line,” Short said via Facebook. Then, not all of the election judges knew what they were doing, but I persevered and voted…this election is so important,” he added.
Indeed, he is right; this is the most important midterm election of my lifetime, perhaps the most important in the country’s history.
Ultimately, if the early crowds in East and West Baltimore communities are any indication, Democratic voter turnout will continue to be high. If that trend continues throughout the nation, Democrats should seize control of the House (a flip of 30-40 seats perhaps).
Further, Ben Jealous has trailed Gov. Larry Hogan by double-digits in virtually every poll. However, if Jealous’ strategy of targeting first-time and unlikely midterm voters is successful and he pulls off an upset tonight, that would indicate Democrats will not only take over the House, but, they’ll be the majority in the Senate as well. In other words, a Jealous win in Maryland could signal a “blue tsunami,” one that could wipe out Donald John Trump’s presidential hopes in 2020.