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Election 2020

Election Day voting goes smoothly in Kent County

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CHESTERTOWN — Voting was steady on Election Day at Kent County’s three polling places and while there were lines, there were no reports of lengthy wait times for voters.

With no clear winner on Tuesday night, Nov. 3 and votes throughout the nation are still being tallied in the race for the White House, Democratic challengers Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris are in the lead in Maryland against the Republican ticket of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Results in all races are unofficial. Not all jurisdictions have reported and there are still mail-in and provisional ballots to be counted in the coming weeks.

As of noon Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Maryland State Board of Elections showed Biden and Harris up 1,354,795 votes to 752,818 for Trump and Pence.

In the race for Maryland’s 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Republican Andy Harris leads with 212,118 votes against Democratic challenger Mia Mason’s 103,888.

Maryland politicians like Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, have issued statements reminding election watchers that there are still votes to be counted. Statements from the Democratic and Republican central committees in Kent County echoed those sentiments.

“At this time KCRCC (Kent County Republican Central Committee) is waiting for the election results,” said Chairman Tatiana Croissette in a short statement Wednesday.

Chairman Pamela White said in a statement on behalf of the Kent County Democratic Central Committee Wednesday that it is exciting to wait on the final results “for the voice of the people, so we can ensure that every vote is counted.” According to the statement, committee members remain optimistic and encouraged by high voter turnout.

“This has been an extraordinarily large turnout, with over 100 million votes already cast before Election Day, and unprecedented absentee ballot numbers. With all of the voting options available this time, it is worth waiting to hear the final outcome for all of the votes,” the statement from the Democratic central committee reads.

Democratic central committee members are “committed to honoring and respecting the counting of votes” and oppose court intervention to decide the election’s outcome.

“Regardless of how the ballot was cast, that vote is valid and we must patiently await the results. All votes must be counted and each candidate must accept the results of the Election, win or lose,” the Democrats’ statement reads. “Congratulations to all Kent County voters who cast their ballots this year.”

Reports from election judges at the Kent County Public Library in Chestertown, the Millington firehouse and the Rock Hall firehouse showed 1,680 voters hit the polls here on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Unofficial early voting numbers showed 4,506 people cast their ballots between Monday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Nov. 2. The first day of early voting was the busiest, with 819 ballots cast. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 were the slowest, with 233 voters on each day, according to a state report.

Another report from the Maryland State Board of Elections showed 4,321 mail-in ballots were requested and 3,803 returned as of Monday, Nov. 2. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received at the Kent County Board of Elections office by Friday, Nov. 13 to be counted, according to the state elections website.

While results are unofficial, a report from the Kent County Board of Elections shows voters here have so far favored the Republican ticket for president and Congress.

There are 6,008 registered Democrats to 4,996 Republicans in Kent County, according to a state elections board report.

Trump and Pence lead in Kent County, 4,185 votes to 3,579 for Biden and Kamala Harris. In the congressional race, Andy Harris also leads in Kent County with 4,325 votes to Mason’s 3,463.

Kent County voters and the rest of Maryland favored both ballot questions, the first expanding the General Assembly’s ability to amend the governor’s annual budget and the other to allow sports betting. The three judges on the ballot — Brynja M. Booth for the Court of Appeals, E. Gregory Walls and Christopher B. Kehoe both for the Court of Special Appeals — also had the backing of voters throughout the state including Kent Countians.

Typically in Maryland, there are two absentee ballot canvasses and one provisional ballot canvass after Election day. This year due to the volume of mail-in ballots, state officials allowed canvassing to begin in October.

The Kent County Board of Elections held a mail-in ballot canvass on Oct. 19, counting 1,726 ballots. The next canvass is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5 and will be livestreamed via town hallstreams.com/towns/kent_county_md.

On Election Day, first-time voters in Chestertown were acknowledged with a shout-out and round of applause from poll workers.

Sue West, an election judge at the Kent County Public Library in Chestertown, said 358 people had voted by early Tuesday afternoon. That number didn’t include those casting provisional ballots, West said.

“The tables have been busy with the provisional ballots,” West said.

Overall, she said, “It’s been very steady, more than steady.”

There was a line 10 deep at the library at 1:40 p.m., spilling out onto High Street, when Traude Harding of Worton arrived. She was voting in person on her 100th birthday.

Wanda Boyer, whose duties as official greeter included making sure everyone was following the COVID-19 precautions, said 20 voters and a poll watcher were waiting in line when the library doors opened at 7 a.m.

Larry Wilson, a chief judge at the Rock Hall firehouse, reported 383 ballots cast before 1:30 p.m. He said 200 of those voters came in before 11 a.m.

It was really busy right off the bat in Rock Hall, with Wilson saying there was a line stretching out the door at times between 7 and 9 a.m. While voter turnout remained steady in the morning, it slowed for a time after noon, Wilson said.

“It’s been sporadic, but busy,” he said at around 1:15 p.m.

Sam Johnston, a chief judge at the Millington polling location, reported voter turnout was steady throughout the morning. He said 301 voters had cast their votes at the Millington firehouse as of a little after 11 a.m.

While the basic operations of voting will remain familiar to anyone who has previously voted in person, there were some necessary changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those waiting in the line that formed outside the firehouse remained at least 6 feet apart. Face masks were required in the firehouse.

Johnston said each voting booth was disinfected after use. He said voters had their hands sprayed with sanitizer before voting and surfaces were constantly wiped down with disinfecting wipes.

Johnston said he hadn’t had any trouble enforcing the COVID-19 mitigation tactics.

Chief Judge Doug Walters reported a busier than normal turnout at the polls in Millington as the day continued.

A little before 6:30 p.m., he reported 682 votes cast at that location.

Walters said voters continued adhering to COVID-19 guidelines like wearing masks or using provided ones. He said people inside and those waiting in line outside the firehouse were following social distancing protocol as well.

In Rock Hall, Wilson reported 757 voters as of 7:23 p.m. While there was no longer a line at the firehouse, voters continued to come through as the day wound down including first-timer Sydney McGinnes at 7:30 p.m.

Wilson said there had not been much of a dinnertime rush in Rock Hall. He said after 6 p.m., traffic slowed down with voters “straggling in here and there.”

At the library in Chestertown, the final count was 722 voters at 8 p.m., including 62 provisional ballots. This compares to more than 800 early voters the day before, according to Chief Judge Nancy Grahamer.

Among the voters on Tuesday in Chestertown were about 30 first-timers, including a man in his 60s, according to election judges.

Aaliyah Harris, 26, of Chestertown, was the last to vote in Chestertown, walking into the library just before the doors closed at 8 p.m. She carefully studied her ballot before handing it to one of the three chief judges on-site. The clock on the wall read 8:04 p.m.

There was no foul, however. In Maryland, and other states, if you are in line at 8 p.m., you still get to vote.

Alex Davis, 25, of Chestertown, also cut it close, handing in his ballot at 7:58 p.m. at the library.

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