MARYLAND — Long lines were reported at polling places around Maryland as early voting began Monday morning. By the time polls closed, officials said residents had broken the state's early voting record.
More than 160,000 people cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, which runs for eight days, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Before 9 p.m., officials said data was still coming in but the tally was 160,247, which was a state record.
The previous high in Maryland was 123,623, set in 2016, according to the Associated Press, which reports the Free State has had early voting since 2010.
“It’s busy,” Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections, told the AP of the first day of early voting.
More than 1 million Marylanders have voted so far, once Monday’s votes are added to more than 947,000 mail-in ballots that have been returned.
The best times to vote during early voting are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, according to state officials.
Due to the coronavirus, voters are to be kept 6 feet apart and there will be a limit on the number of people inside voting centers at one time.
Clifton Shambry of Baltimore said 200 people were in line when he arrived at the early voting site at Camden Yards 7:30 a.m. Monday. He brought a chair.
"I just wanted to make sure my vote counted," Shambry said, just before he stepped inside to vote in person around 9:30 a.m. "People fought for my right to vote."
Hundreds of voters lined up along the entire length of the warehouse at Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Board of Elections reported more than 1,200 people had voted as of 8 p.m.
Uptown at Morgan State University, people were also lined up Monday morning. Nearly 2,000 people had cast their ballots at Morgan by the time polls closed there, election officials said.
Morgan State University welcomes the Morgan Community and the citizens of Baltimore to the National Treasure on this first day of Early Voting in Maryland. #MorganVotes #VotingMatters #2020Election #EarlyVoting pic.twitter.com/KKS6TO7AnP
— Morgan State University (@MorganStateU) October 26, 2020
Baltimore was not the only place where polling places drew long lines.
Wait times were 90 minutes at the executive building in Rockville Monday afternoon, the Montgomery County Board of Elections reported after 2 p.m.
Hundreds of voters wound around the campus of Arundel High School in Odenton, where the wait time was two hours at its peak.
“It’s well worth the wait,” Odenton woman Sabrina Booker said, adding that she would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. “This is the first time in my history of voting that I've stood in a line this long. I’m sure on Nov. 3 the lines are probably going to be twice as long," she said.
Another Odenton voter said he was on the opposite side.
"We are so polarized," Bob Simpson of Odenton said, noting he planned to vote for President Donald Trump’s re-election. "That's why the lines are so long."
In Harford County, 75 people were waiting outside the Jarrettsville Fire Hall when the polls opened, according to The Baltimore Sun, which reported about 100 lined up outside the Westminster Senior Center in Carroll County to vote.
The Harford County Board of Elections reported it had the highest turnout ever outside at 7 a.m.
The best time to vote in person is on weekends during early voting, according to the Maryland Board of Elections.
From Oct. 26 through Election Day, the Maryland Department of Health will have health ambassadors assigned to polling places in Baltimore City, as well as Carroll, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's and Worcester counties. These jurisdictions requested the ambassadors from the Maryland Board of Elections to reinforce guidance on social distancing and face coverings, give masks to those who need them, disinfect high-touch areas and administer hand sanitizer.
"With early voting beginning today and Election Day fast approaching on Nov. 3, many voters are expressing doubts about the safety of voting in person during this pandemic," Maryland Health Secretary Robert R. Neall said in a statement. "Having health ambassadors onsite at the polls will help ensure that everyone is doing their part to keep Marylanders safe and healthy."
Voters can cast their ballots at any polling place in the county where they live or in Baltimore City if that is their jurisdiction of residence. See the list of all early voting centers in Maryland. There are more than 70 statewide.
Early voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, to Monday, Nov. 2.
Voting By Ballot Boxes Or On Election Day
About 315 polling places will be open Election Day across the state — from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov.3.
Same-day registration will be available at early voting and Election Day voting centers.
People can also drop their ballots off at any of these ballot boxes, which are in every jurisdiction in Maryland. They are available 24/7 until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Each Maryland voter will be asked to weigh in on two proposals, selecting whether they are for or against the following amendments:
"The proposed amendment authorizes the General Assembly, in enacting a balanced budget bill for fiscal year 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter, to increase, diminish, or add items, provided that the General Assembly may not exceed the total proposed budget as submitted by the Governor." (Amending Article II Section 17 and Article III Sections 14 and 52 of the Maryland Constitution)
"Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?" (Ch. 492 of the 2020 Legislative Session) Expansion of Commercial Gaming - Sports and Event Wagering
Jacob Baumgart contributed to this report.