Thomas Byrd uses a walker to help get around, but it didn’t slow him down going to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary election at the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Complex in Fort Washington.
Although Maryland election officials outlined for this year’s primary to mainly be conducted through mail-in ballots, residents could vote at certain precincts similar to early voting.
However, Byrd didn’t receive a ballot at his Temple Hills home. His wife of 63 years, Lillian, did and mailed in her ballot.
“Voting brings about change,” Thomas Byrd said. “That’s the best way to speak out and no one can take that away from you.”
The couple also ensured they vote to remove Republican President Donald Trump from office.
“[Trump] doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Lillian Byrd said. “Sometimes I feel sorry for him.”
“I don’t,” her husband replied.
Maryland joins seven other states and Washington, D.C., in holding primary elections and with them transitioning mainly by mail.
Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island postponed elections in April and May and moved them to Tuesday because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Locally, Prince George’s County has several contests, including House of Representatives, Circuit Court judge and two school board races.
Because of the pandemic, the county only opened Southern Regional Technology center, Kentland Community Center, Bowie Gymnasium and College Park Community Center. Residents could place ballots inside drop-off boxes outside those locations and also at the county’s Board of Elections Office in Largo.
As of Monday morning, the county received 112,741 vote-by-mail ballots and another 5,733 absentee ballots.
Between 35 to 40 election judges are at each voting center. To protect the health of workers and voters, the Board of Elections Office ordered plexiglass placed at tables. Other personal protective equipment (PPE) provided for workers are face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes to clean voting equipment throughout the day.
After people voted at the Kentland Community Center in Landover, voters received not only an “I Voted” sticker, but a free mask as well.
Deborah Barr of Forestville chose former Vice President Joe Biden for president and incumbent Anthony Brown for the 4th Congressional District. She also selected incumbent K. Alexander Wallace for the District 7 school board seat.
She chose three current judges — Wytonia Curry, ShaRon M. Grayson and Jared Michael McCarthy — to fill five open seats in the Circuit Court, along with two political novices, April Ademiluyi and Gladys Weatherspoon, attorneys who ran independent campaigns.
Judge races are nonpartisan, so all seven candidates will be placed on the Democratic and Republican ballots.
“The mail-in ballots sent to us, I just wasn’t comfortable with that,” Barr said. “It’s important that you have a voice. You have no reason to complain if you don’t vote. I take this as seriously as I take medicine.”
Danielle Dickerson of Upper Marlboro experienced a challenge in trying to vote at the Kentland Community Center in Landover because voting records showed she already cast her ballot.
Dickerson straightened out the confusion and was able to vote. While there, she left her 19-year-old daughter’s ballot in the dropoff box.
She had difficulty in choosing candidates for the local races, but not for Biden as president, especially after she saw Trump on television Monday standing outside St. John’s Episcopal Church holding a Bible.
Less than 30 minutes before the District’s curfew went into effect at 7 p.m., federal police and members of the National Guard merged upon Lafayette Square near peaceful protestors. Law enforcement authorities used munitions and doused protestors with tear gas.
Then Trump walked to the church from the White House.
“I was purely disgusted,” Dickerson said. “It’s the number one reason why I voted. I’ve had enough [of Trump].”