CENTREVILLE Queen Anne's County voters appeared to be following their sizeable turnout for early general election voting with strong showing as election day itself got under way.
"The turnout is a lot higher than I would have estimated," said Election Director Brittani Thomas on Tuesday afternoon. "When you have more than 400 voters at 11 a.m.," as several precincts had reported, it surpassed her expectations, she said.
Although a voter was reported in serious condition after a fall outside a Chestertown polling place and judges in Sudlersville were concerned they would run out of provisional voting applications, other locations in central and northern Queen Anne's County reported things were going smoothly.
Alton Lutz of Kingstown was flown by helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center after he fell on his arrival at the Ramsey Pontiac polling location.
Ty Young said he watched as Lutz appeared to lose his balance after exiting a vehicle and tried unsuccessfully to catch him before he struck his head. Young said Lutz appeared to black out and later could not remember his birth date.
Emergency workers estimated Lutz as being in his 80s. He remained in serious condition Tuesday afternoon, according to the nursing coordinator at Shock Trauma.
In Sudlersville, Chief Election Judge Robert Boyle was concerned that the polling location at the town's volunteer fire company might run out of provisional ballot applications. "We had 10 (applications). We used six before 10 a.m.," Boyle said.
While the location had 25 provisional ballots to start the day, Boyle continued, they had only 10 applications in which the ballots are sealed once the vote has been cast.
"We gave out every (application) we had," Thomas said. The state provides the county with provisional ballot applications based on an estimate, she continued. More people appear to voting in locations where they aren't registered, Thomas said. "Provisional voting is not set up to be convenience voting," she added. "That's exactly what the problem is."
Thomas said her office would have to make more applications themselves, if necessary.
Judges at locations north and east of Centreville reported high turnouts. Judges at Precinct 3-2, at Centreville Elementary School, with the highest number of registered voters in the county and Precinct 3-1 at Queen Anne's County High School said that turnout was steady and might have been higher except that a lot of local voters took advantage of the Centreville early voting location.
A number of voters cited the economy and job creation as big concerns.
"We need more jobs, especially in this area," said Cheryl Hamm of Sudlersville. "I'm a widow … with a son in college and a daughter who's a (high school) junior. It's very tough."
Another theme cited by voters was change, although some interviewees said they were seeking change with their vote while others said they wanted to reverse changes that occurred in the last general election.
"People are so disillusioned," said Patty Mayer of Chestertown; but she added, "we need to show up (to vote) and hope to see something different" result.
"I don't like the change," said Jennifer Wharton of Centreville. "I want the change to go back."
A number also said that they were ready for the end of this cycle's political campaigns, which some called negative.
"We got poll calls. Everybody was out knocking on our door. It was too much," said Northbrook resident Kristian Gragg after casting his ballot at Centreville Elementary School. "I'm glad it's over."
"There's been mudslinging on both sides," said Pam Schlosser of Sudlersville.
Both first-time-voter Jordan Mayoral and 99-year-old Emma Winchester arrived to vote at Queen Anne's County High School at the same time on Tuesday afternoon.
Mayoral said she wasn't yet sure how it all worked. Election judge Hart Anderson said he wasn't sure whether Winchester had used a touch screen before, but added, "She caught right on."
With school canceled for the election, a number of students accompanied their parents to the polls. Voting in Church Hill, Teacher of the Year and Kent Island High School government instructor Kristin Hurlock said she'd be setting a bad teaching example if she didn't impress on her two boys the importance of voting.
In addition to campaign sign holders, members of community organizations appeared near polling places. Members of Church Hill's United Methodist Church set up a table with homemade soup outside the elementary school as a tasty fundraiser. In Ruthsburg, Doris Greiner and Harriet Caporin were cooking up a storm in preparation for the Community Center's annual ham and oyster dinner, conveniently next door to the polling location.