Maryland voters weather steady rain, ballot problems and at least one power outage at polls on Election Day

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Voters encountered some delays, ballot problems and at least one power outage amid a steady rain Tuesday morning as Election Day got going in the Baltimore area.

But rain began tapering off by early afternoon, in plenty of time for the evening rush that Jared DeMarinis, the state board’s director of candidacy and campaign finance, said he expects.

“Hopefully the rain didn’t stop anyone from turning out,” he said early Tuesday afternoon. “In four hours from now, things will start picking back up.”

Voters are casting ballots Tuesday for all Maryland statewide offices, including governor, for local races including Baltimore County executive, and for Congress. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Baltimore City, more than 20,000 ballots had been cast by late morning, City Election Director Armstead Jones said — about 6 percent of registered voters.

At the central Enoch Pratt Free Library, Mount Vernon resident Alexandra Adams said 40 or 50 people in front of her had already cast ballots and left before a voter notified election judges that the second page of his ballot was missing. That was after voting started 30 minutes late, she said.

Carolyn Warner, another Mount Vernon resident who voted at the library Tuesday morning, said she noticed her form was missing seven of the nine questions on city ballots addressing issues including racial inequity and misconduct by public officials. But she had already spent an hour waiting to vote, and had to leave before election judges started giving out the second page after 8 a.m., she said.

A third central library voter, Jen Aranyi, contacted The Baltimore Sun and provided the same account, and said she reported it to the State Board of Elections.

“It was concerning, to say the least,” said Adams, who reported the problems with ProPublica’s Electionland project. ProPublica shared the tip with The Sun.

But Jones said the chief election judge at the library disputed those accounts and said all voters had received both pages of the ballot.

By late morning, two members of the city election board went to the central library to provide assistance, he said.

DeMarinis said he would look into the reports. Otherwise, “it’s been a relatively smooth election so far,” he said.

Voters said polls opened late at at least two other city precincts, Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill and Federal Hill Preparatory School. Jones said he was not aware of a delay in Federal Hill. The Beth Am precinct opened 20 minutes late, but no voters were turned away, he said.

Some city and Baltimore County precincts also reported temporary troubles with ballot scanners, but issues were quickly resolved, officials said.

In Baltimore County, the precinct at Windsor Mill Middle School lost power, but that did not stop voters from casting ballots there, said Andrew Bailey, attorney for the county elections board.

“We train for this,” he said. “Everything has a battery backup, and we’re in business.”

Otherwise, rain was the only disruption reported.

Outgoing Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, appointed after Kevin Kamenetz’s death, weathered the conditions under a black and yellow umbrella as he stood outside Hillcrest Elementary in Catonsville.

He cast his ballot during early voting, but came out to urge voters to support “my friend Johnny O” — Democratic nominee Johnny Olszewski Jr., who faces Republican Al Redmer Jr.

Mohler said the rain served as a good reminder as to why folks should take advantage of early voting. Despite the wet conditions, he said he plans to visit polling places around the county throughout the day.

“It’s worth it,” Mohler said.

It did not deter strong turnout at some polling places, with hundreds of ballots reported cast at many locations.

At Friendship Valley Elementary School in Westminster, Brian Walsh, who described himself as an independent, said he wanted to vote Tuesday because he believed people too often take the right for granted. Walsh said he was particularly interested seeing more of a balance of power between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, and in supporting Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s re-election.

“The climate of politics now, I think everyone has to do their civic duty and participate in this process,” he said. “Actually I was very excited to vote today. Out of all my elections I think this one, I was pretty fired up to get out here.”

Some scattered severe storms are possible in the early afternoon hours, National Weather Service meteorologist Jeremy Geiger said. There were some lightning strikes around the area Tuesday morning as a cold front approached the state from the west. The strongest threat of storms is expected in Southern Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, he said.

“It’s going to be hit or miss if there’s thunderstorms,” he said. “So far it’s mostly a rain event.”

This story will be updated.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Cody Boteler and Jon Kelvey contributed to this article.

sdance@baltsun.com

twitter.com/ssdance

2018-11-06 18:40:00

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