Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Editor's Note: Most sources for this story were not required to provide their last name, but first name and town of residence only. This was done to encourage an open dialogue on their reflections of today's vote, and to protect privacy. However, all sources went on the record with their comments, which were recorded by Arundel Journal.
Out of several people interviewed at four polling sites in Anne Arundel County between 8:30 am and 10:30 am Tuesday, multiple residents indicated that a sense of “civic duty” brought them out to vote, and a renewed unity in America was what they hoped for from the next four years.
Turnout was modest, but steady this morning at the four polling sites visited. They were Heritage Community Church in Severn at 8 a.m.; Old Mill High School in Millersville at 8:30 a.m.; Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis at 9:30; and Crofton Elementary School in Crofton at 10:15 a,m.
The lightest visible voting traffic was in Severn at Heritage Community Church on Quarterfield Road. Residents walked briskly in the cool autumn air to enter the polling place, and walked just as purposely back to their vehicles. There was a visible police presence from the Anne Arundel County Police Department at the church.
A police officer parked his SUV away from the main areas of access to the polling place. The officer indicated this was so there would be no interference, or even appearance of interference by police, with the election. And yet the department wanted residents to be able to feel secure in a time that has seen a good bit of civil unrest across the country.
His hope for the next four years was a simple one, yet it was an aspiration shared by more than one voter in the county today.
“(I’m hoping) for people to be less crazy—people to be nicer to each other,” he said.
Aaron, also from Severn, also shared both a sense of duty to democracy, and a hope that America would be more unified under the next president.
“I just wanted to be a productive member of society and do my civilian responsibility,” he said upon exiting the polling site. His hope for America was just as direct: “unification—less hate and anger, more camaraderie.”
Frances from Severn was passionate about coming out to vote
“It’s a big election,” she said. “I wanted to vote. I don’t want socialism. I want my kids to have the same American dream I had. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Like several other voters, she said it was mostly the presidential election that she was most concerned about. The future of the Supreme Court was on her mind when she cast her vote.
“Whereas a president can overturn what a previous president has done, it’s really hard to undue what a Supreme Court does,” she said.
As a polling site, Old Mill High School seemed a bit busier than Heritage Community Church. At 8:30 am there was no line formed, but there was a steady appearance of people walking down the sidewalk to enter the high school.
Laura Blankenship voted at the school and brought her granddaughter along for the experience,
"One—it’s my right to vote,” she said. “Two--I want change back in America, I want America to be great again. The injustice has to stop right now, because there’s too much civil injustice going on right now with all the races. It’s too much, too much. We need to get back to where we came from.”
Her hopes for the nation in the next four years are ones that are shared by other county residents too.
“I hope that we are not fighting in the streets—no races are fighting,” Blankenship said. “That’s what I want to see. But that’s going to be hard because all races have to pull together. It’s not about one. It’s about all.”
She said she came to vote for the local candidates too, but also to show her granddaughter what it is to vote and why you vote.
“What the relevance of coming out to vote is for, and that our ancestors fought to come out and vote,” she said. “Especially being female, we need to vote every chance we get.”
For Miles, from Millersville, who came with his mom Sherri, it was his first time voting.
“I was a little confused,” the young man said of the process, “But it was pretty easy. It wasn’t too hard to understand.”
He said he was glad he voted. His mom emphasized the gravity of what they were doing.
“It’s very important,” she said.
They both want to see and end to COVID-19 and for things get back to normal, they said. They also hope more people can get back to work.
The Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis appeared to be the busiest voting site visited. A polling official said around 160 to 170 ballots per hour were being cast there this morning.
Vietnam War Air Force veteran Bruce Ballantyne was taking a few hours this morning to volunteer with the Board of Elections to direct voters on how to access the poll site.
“I’m just a volunteer,” the Annapolis resident said. “I believe in the whole process, and getting involved. I help people coming in...whether they’re voting in person or dropping off a ballot, and where the parking is. It’s kind of confusing, where you go.”
He said the number of people voting was fairly large at 7:30 a.m. when he arrived. Ballantyne had already voted with the early voting option.
“I think most people wanted to get it over with and there was a little bit of a fear factor with how big the lines would be,” he said.
Ballantyne noted he had been against early voting, but gave it a try last year and feels that it’s better than standing in a big line. From his perspective, this years early voting has gone smoothly.
“Early voting went real well,” he said. “A lot of people came out for that. It seems to have the same controls that today’s voting does—same place, same machines, same people. It seems like a pretty good process.’
Down the entrance driveway, Molly from Annapolis, was coming out of the center having just voted. She shared some of the same hopes, other county residents had expressed at other polling sites.
“I’d like to see us more united,” she said. “I’d like to see economic prosperity—normal American stuff.”
Randall Pitt, an election field support worker from Annapolis who originally called Washington D.C. home, has worked for the elections process since the first Obama administration. He said it looked like the poll workers were having a good time, so he inquired about it.
“I’ve been doing it ever since,” Pitt said.
He indicated he had already voted
“The presidency was the main thing that attracted me,” he said. “There were a few other issues that I voted on, but the president’s the most important. It’s a civic duty. It’s a big election. I want to make sure we get our votes counted. In four years I’d like to see us not erecting fences around the White House, better health care—better everything.”
Crofton Elementary School , like Heritage Community Church and Old Mill High School, was seeing modest traffic from voters at 10:15 am Tuesday. Unlike those other locations, an election observer, independent of the board of elections, was noticeably present, and he took time to speak about his perspective,
David Morsberger from Davidsonville identified himself as an election observer representing the Republican Party. He said he was a former long-time election judge himself.
“I’ve been involved in elections, helping people out, for 10,12 years,” he said. “I’ve been a chief judge for multiple elections. This year I wanted to volunteer, and be a poll watcher.
“I’m actually impressed. I thought it was going to be less because of all of the early voting. It started out pretty heavy. We had 25,30 people in the line. Then it kind of slowed down, but it’s picked up right now.”
He said as a former judge he learned of the many protections provided to ensure secure, fair voting in the in-person voting process. He was more concerned about the mail-in voting process though.
“I will say that this year, with all the absentee and the mail-in ballots, I’m curious about the controls,” he said. “You put it into this ether—the post office. It lost the controls, the eyes from here to here. When you do large-scale mail-in ballots, I worry about those controls.”
He said he would evaluate his position on any potential problems that come about from the mail-in voting system on a case-by-case basis.
“That’s a tough one,” he said. “It has nothing to do with who I support. It’s the way things are challenged, and the basis for the challenges and the basis for the ruling for the challenges. There’s an uncertainty here, and it’s got to be based off of facts, not inertia.”
Jennifer from Crofton works in the healthcare field. When asked after voting, she expressed some moderate views on both candidates.
“I think there’s good and bad on both sides and everyone just needs to come together,” she said.
Charles from Crofton felt that voting for him as an American was a calling.
“It’s an imperative,” he said “I feel a great call as a citizen of this great country to come and vote. Whether it’s an election that involves a presidential candidate or not, my job’s to be out here and vote.”
“I pray that we get back to our roots, get back to the founding principles that our country was first birthed on. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Give rights to the people and let the people choose what they need to do and why they need to do it.
“I’m not a big fan of having the government control what I do and what I say and where I go. I believe that individual rights are pretty important. I’m praying that our country gets back to a point where people can have their say and their elected representatives will reflect their say in the way the country is run—not top down...rather it should be us informing them of what we think is good.”