Election 2020Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Early Voting Continues in Maryland

Long Lines on First Day in Prince George's

For Maryland voters who still haven’t cast their ballots, early voting continues through Monday, Nov. 2 with a chance to break more voting records.

On the first day of early voting Monday, Oct. 26, more than 161,000 people voted — the highest mark in state history which also surpassed the first-day turnout of 123,623 in the presidential election four years ago.

On the same day, the Prince George’s County Board of Elections reported an unofficial voter turnout of 24,707, compared to 22,683 on the first day of early voting during the 2016 presidential election.

Although there remains a global coronavirus pandemic with about 142,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in Maryland, it didn’t stop thousands of Prince George’s residents from voting in person, like Andrea Simpson and her daughter, Veronica.

They stood in a long line which, if stretched out, would have almost circled the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center complex in Landover. They both experienced personal firsts with Andrea voting early and Veronica Simpson casting a ballot in the presidential election.

“I’m really happy I have my mom here with me because if I was by myself, I’ll probably be a little overwhelmed – it’s an exciting feeling,” said Veronica of Capitol Heights who attends the University of Maryland Baltimore County majoring in Asian studies with a minor in Korean.

Dean and Dewanna Jean Pierre of Largo echoed the sentiments of several voters in the majority-Black jurisdiction with the most registered Democrats in the state: get Republican President Donald Trump out of -the White House.

“It’s more than just trying to get [Democratic presidential nominee Joe] Biden in office as everyone is frustrated on how Trump’s been for the past four years. He’s been a demon,” Dean said.

The coronavirus forced several changes in this year’s voting process in Maryland such as using voting locations as polling centers which allows for voters to cast a ballot at any site within a jurisdiction. Of the more than 4 million registered voters in Maryland, about 1.6 million requested mail-in ballots.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 27, the state Board of Elections reported slightly more than 1 million mail-in ballots have been received. The state reported Prince George’s with the second-highest total with 162,710 ballots received behind Montgomery County’s 237,171 ballots.

Prince George’s has about 606,440 registered voters but the figure could increase with same-day voter registration during early voting and Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Although state and health officials urged voters to cast their ballots by mail, state election officials estimated half of the state’s registered voters would vote in person.

The state has about 81 early voting centers with 11 in Prince George’s. Most of the early voting sites in the county will have about 60 election judges working through Monday, Nov. 2 and about 50 on Election Day.

Countywide Ballot Includes Other Hot Races, Issues

Besides the presidential race between Trump and Biden, county voters will decide on two statewide and five countywide ballot questions along with three competitive races for the Circuit Court judge and school board in Districts 4 and 7. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) has been predicted to maintain his seat on Capitol Hill representing the 4th Congressional District.

Two voters had differing viewpoints on Question 2, which asks voters whether to support sports betting in Maryland.

The Vote Yes on Question 2 committee, chaired by former University of Maryland basketball star Marissa Coleman, received $2 million from the two major online betting companies, DraftKings and FanDuel.

Paula Hoover of Beltsville, a medical assistant with MedStar Health, voted “yes” because students and teachers “need more money in the school system.”

Voters wait inside the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover to cast their ballots on Oct. 26, the first day of Maryland's early voting period. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Voters wait inside the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover to cast their ballots on Oct. 26, the first day of Maryland’s early voting period. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Joanne Frederick of Capitol Heights voted “no” because for several years, casino revenue supplanted funding streams without adding to them.

“It looks good, it looks great but what is the reality?” asked Frederick, a licensed counselor who runs JFL & Associates Counseling Services in Northwest.

Unfortunately, some voters who reside in the school system District 7 area say they did not know about the race between Alexis Branch and Kenneth Harris II. The winner will replace school board member K. Alexander Wallace, who lost in the June primary.

But some parents expressed concern about projected safety and COVID-19 protocols in the public schools.

“If [school officials] decide to open back before it is actually safe, I’m going to opt out,” said a county educator who declined to be identified and has a daughter in pre-kindergarten. “When we’re in a store, she can barely keep her mask on for more than two minutes. I can only imagine how she would be in the classroom.”

Prince George’s residents who still haven’t voted can log onto the county’s Board of Elections website to check waiting times at early voting sites. Officials say the site continues to be updated every two hours.

Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during early voting and Election Day.

Lindiwe Vilakazi contributed to this story.

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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