Voters straggled to the voting booths for the 2012 primary election all day on Tuesday. No lines. No waiting.

Those who did show up to the polls were dismayed to see so few of their fellow citizens taking their places in front of the electronic monitor. Traffic to the polls was light all day, even during the typically busy lunch period from noon to 2pm. Signs posted by the Maryland State Board of Elections warned off non-existent electioneering, which, at best, was a sign representing a candidate in the senate race.

“It’s low, and it’s really a sad state of affairs,” said Baltimore resident, Amanda Morgan, of the participation as she exited the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Cathedral Street.

“We don’t educate people,” said Morgan, who believes that ignorance of voter laws and election periods create ripples that amass to a wave of voter apathy. That tide last washed over residents in the 2011 mayoral race, which produced one of the lowest voter turnout rates ever for Baltimore City.

Reasons for the low turnout given by check-in and election judges on Tuesday included the fact that some eligible voters were unaware that citizens are required to vote in their registered precinct, not just at any poll open. Others thought that the virtual absence of campaign signage and community engagement until the last week before polls opened directly affected the day’s events.

“The candidates did little to nothing in the area of voter registration because many of them are incumbents seeking re-election and incumbents, for the most part, don’t register voters,” said Dr. Marvin Cheatham, long-time civil rights leader and consultant on election law. “Keep it quiet- that’s what gets you re-elected. In the last week we’ve probably gotten more advertisement than we’ve had all year. The overwhelming majority of people in Baltimore City are not aware that there is an election.”

Still, even with few notices and relatively no commotion surrounding the election in Baltimore, voters like Gregory P. Hewlett made it their duty to get out early and make their voices heard at polls. “I’m not going to ever refrain from voting because it’s so important,” said Hewlett, as he became the proud owner of the sticker given to voters upon completing the process. “It’s important because of all the people that paid the price for- that went to jail and died for me to have a right to vote.”

Not all Baltimoreans saw the absence of crowded lines on Election Day as an occasion to be alarmed. In fact, some judges said the polls were standing empty because many citizens took advantage of the early voting period, which offered more flexibility.

“A lot of voters came out to the early voting,” Earlene Cox, a check-in judge at the firehouse on Greenmount Avenue, home to Engine 31. “Early voting worked very well. Those that were working or couldn’t make it during the day, came out on the weekend and in the evening.”

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer