A handful of voters cast their ballots at the Silver Spring Civic Building in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 7, the first day of the early voting period for the state's primary election. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
A handful of voters cast their ballots at the Silver Spring Civic Building in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 7, the first day of the early voting period for the state's primary election. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

After Monniquer McCaskill finished her graveyard shift Thursday with the United States Postal Service, she chose to cast her ballot on the first day of early voting in Maryland’s primary election.

McCaskill, of Temple Hills, also needed to speak with a Prince George’s County election official because two of the six people in her household who are registered voters didn’t receive ballots in the mail.

“I didn’t get mine, so instead of going home, I might as well come and vote,” McCaskill said outside the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Center in Fort Washington. “It’s important to vote to hold people accountable … for what you want materialized. I also need to make sure the rest of my family votes, too.”

Monniquer McCaskill of Temple Hills, Maryland, a United States Postal Service employee, came after work to the Southern Regional Technology and Recreation Center in Fort Washington to vote in the state’s primary election on July 7, the first day of the early voting period. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The number of elected officials, campaign workers and volunteers outnumbered McCaskill and other voters early Thursday morning.

Voters walked through a sidewalk maze of small, medium and large campaign signs as candidates dressed in blue, red, yellow and other colored shirts greeted them along the way.

“Hi, I’m Monique Anderson-Walker and I’m the lieutenant governor candidate running with Peter Franchot,” Anderson-Walker said to one voter.

A similar scene took place further north at the Silver Spring Civic Building in neighboring Montgomery County where Stacey Jerome listened to candidates and supporters pitched reasons for their votes.

“I need some information here,” Jerome said while holding her 8-month-old daughter, Rio. Her 7-year-old son, Ryan, held several pieces of campaign literature for his mom.

It’s unclear how many ballots will be cast in person or by mail for this year’s gubernatorial election, but the 2020 presidential election garnered 152,000 ballots on the first day of early voting.

Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (left) chats with Stacey Jerome of Silver Spring, Maryland, at the Silver Spring Civic Building on July 7, the first day of the early voting period for the state’s primary election. Jerome came to the polling location to cast her ballot along with her 8-month-old daughter Rio and 7-year-old son Ryan. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Although third-party and unaffiliated voters can participate in the primary and vote for independent races such as for local school boards, Maryland holds closed primaries in which only Democrats and Republicans can vote.

Maryland has about 4.1 million registered voters with slightly more than half registered as Democrats, but state officials anticipate a low voter turnout.

However, state officials mailed nearly 600,000 ballots. It’s unclear how many will return them by mail or leave them at a drop box.

Tom Perez, former Democratic National Committee chair and one of 10 Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination, chose Thursday to place his ballot inside a drop box at the Silver Spring Civic Center.

“I feel like we are peaking at the right time,” Perez said. “It’s a lot of undecided voters. Polling shows it’s a dead heat. I feel very, very optimistic moving forward.”

Maryland gubernatorial hopeful and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez places his ballot inside a drop box at the Silver Spring Civic Building on July 7, the first day of the early voting period for the state’s primary election. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Cathy Henderson of Silver Spring chose Perez and several other Democrats including Rep. Jamie Raskin, state Sen. Will Smith and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

She voted to reelect Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy “because my husband taught him in high school.”

“I never got my mail-in ballot, but I like to vote in person and get those [‘I Voted’] stickers,” she said. “There’s more [campaign] workers than voters out here, but I hope people vote no matter how they do it.”

Early voting continues through July 14 and polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. They open at the same time on Election Day on July 19.

Requests for mail-in ballots must be completed by Tuesday.

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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