Although the Maryland State Board of Elections said nearly 80,000 voters statewide will have to cast provisional ballots in Tuesday’s primary because of a computer glitch, no reported mishaps occurred at polling stations in Prince George’s County.
State officials assured the problem, which happened back in April 2017 when voters tried to update their voter registration through the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration kiosks, are rectified and voters can vote on a provisional ballot.
Alan Chambers of Laurel didn’t have that problem, but he couldn’t cast a vote in the crowded gubernatorial and county executive Democratic primary races because he’s a registered independent. Chambers, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, didn’t know the state runs a closed primary, meaning only voters affiliated with a particular party can vote.
“It sucks,” Chambers said outside Robert J. DiPietro Community Center in Laurel. “I’m a combat veteran. I fought for this country and can’t even vote? I don’t want to be bound to a party. I may vote for a Democrat here or a Republican here. That’s my right.”
According to the posted voted totals at 11 a.m., 165 ballots cast at the community center with 153 Democratic, eight Republican ballots and four unaffiliated ballots who voted on a provisional ballot.
Meanwhile, Democratic voters such as Sandra Bouchelion walked to Oxon Hill Middle School and quickly casts her votes for Prince George’s County Rushern L. Baker III for governor and supports Donna Edwards to replace Baker as county executive.
“This is the one right that nobody can take away from me,” said Bouchelion, a retired accountant. “I’m surprised there aren’t more out quite frankly, but I guess more people voted early.”
Nearly 41,000 Prince George’s residents chose to vote early, the highest number recorded by the state. However, the unofficial total doesn’t include provisional and absentee voters and represents only 8 percent of the 527,539 registered voters in the county.
Baker and former NAACP President Ben Jealous are ranked as the two top candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary to challenge Rep. Gov. Larry Hogan.
When asked Tuesday morning about the history of possibly being the first Black elected to win governor, both Baker and Jealous focused on their records to help Marylanders receive affordable health care and offer better education opportunities for students.
Natalie Pappas of Cheverly drove to her polling place and walked inside Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary to vote with her daughter, Eliza, 20 months old, strapped to her back, and other daughter Lydia, 6, holding her mother’s hand.
Pappas voted for Baker and State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks to replace Baker as county executive. Baker cannot run again for his current position because he’s term-limited.
“I just want to make sure people who reflect our values get in office,” Pappas said after Baker chatted with her and her two children. “In the past, I haven’t always done my duty. It was important for me to do that today.”
While several polling places remained relatively calm inside and outside, dozens of candidates and their volunteers flanked outside Dr. Henry Wise High School in Upper Marlboro.
When a voter walked toward the area to go inside to vote, candidates quickly walked to introduce themselves and distribute campaign literature.
According to totals posted at 12:05 p.m., 388 ballots cast with 374 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
“Man, it’s a madhouse out here,” said one voter who declined to be identified after he voted.
The other candidates in the gubernatorial race include State Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery County; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; Baltimore attorney Jim Shea; Krish Vignarajah, onetime policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama; James Hugh Jones II of Baltimore City; and Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County.
The other candidates in the county executive race include: state Sen. C. Anthony Muse; former Barack Obama official Paul Monteiro; former Lt. Gov. Samuel Bogley II; Tommie Thompson, president of Bazilio Cobb Associates; Air Force veteran Billy Bridges; Lewis B. Johnson, a retiree from the U.S. Government Printing Office on Capitol Hill; and Michael E. Kennedy.
Jerry Mathis represents the lone Republican in the race.
Polls close at 8 p.m. For information on how to find a specific polling location, call 301-341-7300.