Montgomery County voters head to polls on first day of early voting

UPDATED: More than 24,000 Montgomery County residents turn out on first day of in-person voting

State says it set a one-day record for early-voting turnout

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People line up to vote at the Gaithersburg Activity Center on Monday afternoon. People entering the building around 5 p.m. said they were waiting in line for approximately 1 hour. The Gaithersburg site is one of 11 early voting locations in Montgomery County.

Photo by Caitlynn Peetz

Montgomery County voters were out in full force Monday on the first day of early voting in Maryland.

Lines could be seen stretching out the door at the 11 voting centers throughout the county. The county Board of Elections website showed wait times of more than an hour at multiple locations Monday morning.

By 6 p.m. on Monday, some voting centers had no wait while the Executive Office Building in Rockville had the longest wait, at one hour and 20 minutes.

The Maryland State Board of Elections posted a message on Twitter Monday night that more than 161,000 people cast their ballot in person on the first day of early voting. It was a one-day record for early voting in Maryland, according to state election officials.

Comparatively, nearly 124,000 people voted early on the first day in 2016.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections posted a message on Twitter Monday night that unofficially, 24,359 people cast their ballot on the first day of early voting. The breakdown by polling site was:

  • Germantown Community Recreation Center, 3,434 voters
  • Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 3,009 voters
  • Wheaton Library, 2,833 voters
  • Silver Spring Civic Center, 2,662 voters
  • Potomac Community Recreation Center, 2,659 voters
  • Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center, 2,081 voters
  • Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center, 1,990 voters
  • Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Station, 1,802 voters
  • Mid-County Community Recreation Center, 1,575 voters
  • Executive Office Building, 1,133 voters
  • Damascus Community Recreation Center, 1,181 voters

Maryland’s early-voting period runs through Nov. 2. Election Day is the next day.

Montgomery County voters are choosing school board members, circuit judges and members of Congress as they also vote for president. County and state referendums also are on the ballot.

At 4 p.m. on Monday, the parking lot at the Potomac Community Recreation Center on Falls Road was mostly full.

The line to vote started just inside the building’s entrance and snaked around through an event hall and the lobby. Although a sign at the center advertised a wait time of 30 minutes, it only took about 15.

One woman standing in line remarked that the line didn’t seem unusually long, but the parking situation was worse than in past years.

Voters at the Potomac Community Recreation Center kept six feet apart while in line on Monday. Blue markers helped them maintain social distancing. Photo by Dan Schere.

Blue X’s were taped to the floor at the recreation center to ensure voters maintained at least 6 feet of distance between them, and voters appeared to obey the social distancing rules.

Masks were also available just outside the voting room for those who weren’t wearing them. No one was allowed in to vote without one.

The voting room was slightly more crowded, with most of the voting booths occupied at a given time. Election workers directed people in line to numbered check-in stations. Voters then went to a separate table to claim their specific ballot before voting.

Voters exiting the building on Monday said they felt the process was easy and straightforward.

“I thought the lines were gonna be long, but they ran really fast and everyone was really helpful. It went by smoothly. I was surprised,” said Chad Ashley of Potomac.

Ashley said he felt safe while inside the recreation center.

“It was pretty chill. I liked that they gave out masks,” he said.

Margo Green said she was happy to vote for President Donald Trump and hopes he wins re-election. Green, a Potomac resident, added that she also felt safe while voting.

“Everything was sanitized. We all followed like good penguins the instructions. We all acted subdued. It was very easy,” she said.

Hetal Shah of Bethesda said the voting process took about 15 minutes. She wants others to know how easy it was.

 “Please vote,” she said.

Montgomery County residents have also been sending in their ballots by mail for several weeks.

Voters waiting outside the Gaithersburg Activity Center on Monday. Photo by Caitlynn Peetz.

According to the state Board of Elections, 376,969 ballots had been sent to county voters as of Monday. Of those, 219,852 had been received, about 58%.

Every day of early voting, the 11 centers in the county are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There will also be 39 in-person voting sites in the county open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

For more information on voting, the local candidates and ballot questions, visit Bethesda Beat’s voters guide.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

 

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