Oct. 27—When Catherine Birkelien arrived at the McFaul Activity Center in Bel Air Thursday morning and realized her exercise class had been canceled, she decided to vote on Harford County's first day of early voting.
"I had planned to vote early anyway," the 72-year-old Bel Air resident said.
Early voting for the 2022 midterm election began Thursday in Maryland. Harford voters can choose from four early voting locations: the McFaul Activity Center, the Edgewood Recreation and Community Center, the Havre de Grace Activity Center and the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company. Early voting locations are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day through Nov. 3.
Stephanie Taylor, the elections director for the Harford County Board of Elections, said the four early voting sites opened Thursday morning with zero issues. "Everything is running smoothly," she told The Aegis.
Within the first hour at the McFaul Activity Center, 76 voters had come in, and another 30 came in by 8:30 a.m.
Taylor said they are slightly short on election judges at the moment, but they're better off than they were for the primary election in July.
Beth Lund enjoyed her experience voting early. "I can't say enough about it," she said.
Although the mail-in ballot the 81-year-old Bel Air resident requested didn't come, she was able to fill out a provisional ballot. "There were two people that just immediately walked me through the process," Lund, an independent, said. "I was inside five minutes."
Lund, a retired business owner, has lived in Harford County for 51 years and said she's never missed a chance to vote.
After 609 days of campaigning, Republican candidate for the county's clerk of the circuit court, Michelle Karczeski, waved a sign outside the McFaul Activity Center and said she's excited to wrap the race up.
"I really just want to have the opportunity to get in there and do some great things," she said.
This year, Democrat Wes Moore is facing off against Republican Dan Cox in the race for governor.
Birkelien, a Democrat, has lived in Harford County for four years and is still figuring out the county's politics. But for her, the governor's race is the most important. She cast her vote for Moore.
"It's such an important position, and I just would like good representation for our state in the political arena," Birkelien said.
John Whitty, a Republican, said he voted for conservative representation because of issues like the economy. "The economy sucks," the 61-year-old Joppa resident said.
Whitty votes Republican most of the time, he said, but he cast his vote for Cox with hesitation. "It wasn't my choice," he said. "But the other guy, too over-the-top, too far left. ...
"I'm very conservative," he continued, "but when [Cox] thinks Trump didn't lose the election, he's crazy. He's just over-the-top with some of his beliefs. He's just too radical."
Rupa Mohindru, of Bel Air, said she's less concerned about changes needed in the county and more concerned with the state of the world at large. She's especially worried about the rate of inflation.
"I hope someone will listen to the voice of the people and do the right thing," Mohindru, an independent, said. "I don't care. It's one party or the other party. Do the right thing."
Amy Nash is less concerned about issues such as the economy. "Economies come and economies go," the 66-year-old therapist from Bel Air said. "The whole world is suffering right now."
Nash is more concerned with the state of American democracy.
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"Our democracy and our constitutions and the freedoms that we have as Americans, I feel they're in jeopardy," Nash said.
Although Nash is an independent, she voted for Democratic this year. And while she voted for Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, when he ran, she said she didn't have a choice in this year's gubernatorial election.
"There's an election denier and then there's a person that seems to be honorable, and this means a lot to me," Nash said. "I go by what a person is, not by what a person says. Because people say a lot of things, and it's only to get elected."
Joe McNabb, a Republican of many years, showed up to support his party.
"Most candidates, I don't really know a whole lot about," the 71-year-old Bel Air resident said. "I vote ... Republican, have been for many years. I trust Republicans more than I do 'Dumbocrats.'"
McNabb also said that voting early was a good way to avoid the crowds.
"It's just more convenient," he said.