Theodore Lilly of Fort Washington places his ballot inside a drop box on July 7 outside the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Center in Fort Washington, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Theodore Lilly of Fort Washington places his ballot inside a drop box on July 7 outside the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Center in Fort Washington, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Theresa Crowdy of Upper Marlboro chose to vote early in Maryland’s primary election so she could take her time.

It took less than 15 minutes for the school bus driver for Prince George’s County Public Schools to vote Monday, July 11 at the Kentland Community Center in Landover.

Crowdy declined to say who she voted for but said she takes her right to vote “very seriously.”

“I believe in voting, even if I chose the person to be in the newer positions who could help us, doesn’t get in. It’s my right to vote,” she said, staring into the bright sunshine with her “I voted” sticker on her shirt. “I’ve taught it to my children. They get questioned every day, ‘Did you vote?’ There are no excuses.”

With some officials retiring and others seeking other positions, Maryland voters in this year’s primary election will choose new people to manage statewide offices including governor, attorney general and comptroller.

Alvin and Katie Blunt of Kettering voted early Monday and spoke highly of the following candidates: Rep. Anthony Brown for attorney general; Bowie Mayor Tim Adams for comptroller; and Wala Blegay to represent Prince George’s County Council’s District 6 area.

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore votes alongside his daughter Mia in Baltimore on July 7, the first day of early voting in the state primary election. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Alvin Blunt, 82, has a message for all of the candidates.

“The key people I voted for can walk down the street when it’s not election time and just stop by to say, ‘Hi. Mr. Blunt.’ I just want to know what you think about our county and our community,” he said. “You don’t have to do what I say but at least hear me.”

In the meantime, official results could take a bit longer to count because mail-in ballots aren’t permitted to be counted until the Thursday after Election Day.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in June 2020, nearly 1.4 million of the state’s more than 4 million eligible voters voted exclusively by mail. It marked the state’s first election to offer such a provision. 

The General Assembly approved legislation this year to allow the counting of mail-in ballots about a week before early voting.

Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the measure in May with claims that “election security” can create abuse from mail-in voting versus voting in person.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his wife, Yumi, participate on the first day of early voting in the state primary election at Annapolis Middle School on July 7. The term-limited Hogan voted in the state primary for his final time while in office. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

During the first four days of early voting between July 7 and 10, approximately 58,175 Maryland voters cast ballots in person. About 81,160 voted in person the first four days of early voting in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

As of Sunday, about 115,060 mail-in ballots have been received.

In Prince George’s, at least 40,000 ballots could be received when early voting ends Thursday, July 14.

“There is some shift in how voters are voting,” county Elections Administrator Alisha Alexander said during a virtual board meeting Monday. “It is going to be interesting to see how [voter] turnout looks like on Election Day.”

Prince George’s Council

At least four new people will join Prince George’s County Council in December due to term limits in Districts 2, 3, 4 and 6.

Rhonda Billingslea of Bowie declined to say which candidate she will vote for to represent County Council’s District 4 to replace Todd Turner.

Carol Boyer, also of Bowie but who resides in District 6, said Friday she hadn’t voted yet but hopes the new person will be better than former council member Derrick Leon Davis. Council unanimously voted in May to appoint former District Heights Mayor Johnathan Medlock to serve Davis’ remaining term after he resigned in April.

“I hope the new person will look out for the residents in our district,” Boyer said.

Billingslea and Boyer said who they aren’t voting for: at-large council members Calvin Hawkins II and Mel Franklin.

One reason stems from their vote to support a text amendment in 2019 to allow the owners of Freeway Airport in Bowie to construct slightly more than 500 townhouses and single-family homes. The land zoned residential agricultural “would allow a density nine times greater than what’s currently permitted.”

Boyer and Billingslea count as part of Concerned Citizens of Prince George’s County District 4 and the Surrounding Areas, which filed a petition in court to challenge council’s decision.

The case would be moved to Anne Arundel Court to eliminate a conflict of interest in the case. 

(Note: Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, elected mayor several days after council’s decision in November 2019 who disagreed with council’s decision, is married to Sheila Tillerson Adams, administrative judge in the Prince George’s Circuit Court)

An Anne Arundel County judge ruled in favor of the council last year.

The citizens group appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which released a written decision June 29 to reverse the court’s decision. 

“This case presents a worrisome dynamic between public and private interests,” according to the special appeals ruling. “The airport owners have essentially bullied the Council by claiming that . . . they will intensify the usage, making it more dangerous unless the Council accords them the density of their choice.”

Hawkins and Franklin also voted in November to revamp a redistricting plan and rejected a proposal from a three-member redistricting commission that council created. The state court of appeals ruled in March against the council and for the county to use the commission’s plan.

“I didn’t vote for them in the last election,” Billingslea said about Hawkins and Franklin. “Look at how they voted on various issues, especially for them to be challenged in court. Hopefully people will really look at the candidates.”

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close by 8 p.m. for voters to cast ballots early by Thursday.The hours are the same on Election Day on Tuesday, July 19. Prince George’s voters can cast ballots at 240 polling locations.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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