In Dundalk, Compelling Issues Draw Voters to Polls
The race for president, expanded gambling, gay marriage and women's rights are top reasons residents are standing in line to cast their votes.
Greater Dundalk is rocking the vote if the crowds at four polling places visited today are any indication.
The parking lots at Norwood Elementary, Dundalk Middle School and Edgemere Elementary schools were nearly packed between 10 and 11 a.m., and again around noon.
At Chesapeake Terrace Elementary School in Edgemere, where your Dundalk Patch editor votes, the crowd was "steady," according to poll workers.
At about 12:10 p.m., the entire voting process, from sign-in to taking the electronic card out of the voting machine, took about 20 minutes.
Chesapeake Terrace has 2,927 registered voters, and 766 had voted by 12:26 p.m., according to a print-out provided by election judges.
Outside the school, voters Gloria and John Strasbaugh said Question 7, regarding the expansion of commercial gambling in Maryland, was the most compelling issue to them.
The Lodge Forest residents haven't missed an election in which they were able to vote in the 44 years they have been married, they said.
So while they always consider it their civic duty to vote, the gambling question was at the forefront of their thoughts.
"There's too much gambling in Maryland as it is," John Stasbaugh said.
"And they haven't done what they said they would do before, they haven't built the ones they said they would," Gloria said. "And I understand Perryville isn't in the best of health."
She was referring to Hollywood Casino in Cecil County, Maryland's first casino to be built after commercial gambling in Maryland was authorized four years ago.
Hollywood lost nearly a third of its revenue when the Maryland Live! casino opened at Arundel Mills Mall earlier this year, according to a WJZ-TV report.
The Stasbaughs believe there is only so much gambling money to go around, and that more casinos are not needed.
State Sen. Norman Stone, who lives in Edgemere, cast his ballot at Chesapeake Terrace at about 12:30 p.m.
After he voted, he chatted with Edgemere residents Darlene and Jeff Thomas. Darlene was on her way in to vote and Jeff was reporting for duty to represent the Democratic party in the outside electioneering area.
Just up the sidewalk a bit, Ethel Zelenske was the lone electioneer for most of the morning. Working with Marylanders for Marriage Equality, she was handing out pro-Question 6 literature, asking voters to support Maryland's Civil Marriage Protection Act.
"People have been very polite," she said. "Most take the literature when I hand it to them, and some tell me how they're voting for and against."
Millers Island Road resident Joe Reinhardt voted at Edgemere Elementary School around noon, when he waited about 20 minutes to cast his ballot.
He said the race for president and a "few of the questions" were the most compelling draw this year, but added he "absolutely" always exercises his right to vote.
Without saying outright who he voted for, Reinhardt said he "doesn't like the way things have gone over the past four years" and he's concerned about the national deficit.
"I worry about my children; they are the ones who are going to have to pay the bill," he said.
"Women's issues were the most compelling thing for me," Jones Creek resident Trudie Stancliff said after voting at Chesapeake Terrace. "I had to vote to make sure that the rights of women are protected."
At about 2:15 p.m., she was the first one in line during a lull at the polls and had no wait before she cast her vote for Barack Obama for president.
"I know of a lot of women who have never voted who are voting this year for the first time," Stancliff said. "They're voting to protect their rights as women, to be able to make their personal decisions as women."
Polling places are open until 8 p.m. Polls will remain open as long as necessary to accomodate all voters in line by 8 p.m.