Whether it was the high stakes in the election or the prospect of Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc in the area, the first day of early voting in Maryland drew a big crowd Saturday at the American Red Cross of Washington County building on Conrad Court.
“I wanted to beat the crowd, but as you can see, they all followed me here,” Joe Hamilton of Hagerstown said as he stood near the end of a line that stretched halfway around the building. He said the predictions of bad weather also were a factor in his decision to come out early.
“I like the idea of early voting because we can get it done. It’s over with ... and I don’t have to pay attention to the politics and the ads any longer,” said Larry Engle of Hagerstown.
“Obama and Biden deserve it and they should get it,” Engle said of his preference.
“I travel a lot in my work and my son is volunteering here today, so I figured I’d drop him off and get the vote done at the same time,” said Scott Olson of Hagerstown. He said he was voting for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and U.S. Senate candidate John Bongino, also a Republican.
There were about a hundred people waiting in line to vote Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Since the polls had opened at 10 a.m., 560 people had cast ballots, said Kaye Robucci, Washington County’s director of elections.
“It was worse than this at 11 o’clock, when my husband voted,” said Barbara Driscoll of Hagerstown. She previously had been unaware that Maryland had early voting.
“I want to make sure my candidates win,” Driscoll said.
This was the first presidential election for which Maryland has had early voting, Robucci said.
Talking to some of the people in line, Robucci said a number of them expressed concerns about the hurricane bearing down on the mid-Atlantic region.
Others had different reasons.
A Boonsboro man said it was “out of necessity. I’m having surgery election day.”
A Hagerstown woman said she would be traveling outside the country on Nov. 6.
“I never take a chance on losing my vote,” said Ralph Wachter of Hagerstown. As for his preference, Wachter said, “That’s between me and the guy upstairs.”
The final tally of early voters Saturday was 1,441, Robucci said Saturday night.
Early voting resumes Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., Robucci said. Voting continues Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., she said.
If you vote
What: Early voting in Washington County
When: Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.; Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: American Red Cross, 1131 Conrad Court, Hagerstown