ELKTON — Over 200 people waited in line as polls closed on Monday night. Cecil County Elections Director Ruie Lavoie said they had all cast their ballots before 9:00 p.m., at which point her team at the county administration building began preparations for Election Day.
Almost 16,500 voters cast ballots across a week of early voting out of nearly 70,000 active voters in the county. Of these early in-person ballots, 9,265 were from registered Republican voters, while 4,264 were from registered Democrats and 2,917 came from unaffiliated voters.
The county counted about 7,200 mail-in ballots before early voting started, and received at least 5,000 more in recent days, which Lavoie said would be counted on Thursday, Nov. 5.
“Everybody’s doing well. All of our vote centers were open on time with voters in line,” Lavoie said in an interview the morning of Election Day. “We’re in the home stretch now.”
Cameron Brown, the county election board’s attorney, said he was happy to see the turnout.
“People are excited to vote in this election,” he said. “Everything seems to be running fairly smoothly — knock on wood.”
The line of voters at Rising Sun High School formed even before the polls were opened and stretched around the school on Tiger Drive, around the parking lot past the football stadium and up the hill overlooking the campus.
In spite of the numbers the line moved steadily, taking voters about 90 minutes to reach the polls themselves and cast ballots in the general election.
“It’s cool to see how many people showed up,” said Sophie Smith, a first time voter. “I think this is half of Rising Sun.”
Smith, 18, took a long weekend away from Salisbury University to come home and vote with her parents.
“I applied for a mail-in ballot but I never got it,” Smith said. Smith, from Rising Sun, would be among those to seek a provisional ballot instead.
Also in line at RSHS was Phyllis Willerton.
“This is history making,” Willerton, who lives in Rising Sun, said as she looked at her place in the long line. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Poll workers found at least 500 waiting in line before the polls opened at 7:00 a.m. By noon more than 1,000 had cast ballots in the school gymnasium. Voters were offered the option of electronic or paper ballot, with election officials indicating there was a longer wait for the choice of electronic.
As people waited patiently in the line down the hall Tricia Campbell urged her daughter Madison Nordberg to the front of the line.
“Pregnant lady coming in to vote,” Campbell announced, adding Nordberg, from Colora, was in active labor.
With contractions coming 3-to-7-minutes apart, Nordberg was obviously uncomfortable but determined to cast her ballot. Her due date was Nov. 15 but the mom of two daughters had been going in and out of labor for days. Her obstetrician intervened at an appointment just before Campbell and Nordberg arrived at RSHS.
With her vote cast Nordberg was heading to the hospital to be met by her husband for the delivery of Lydia Rose.
“Her big sisters are so excited,” Campbell said.
When Smith finished registering herself at the table to vote a round of applause went up in the gym. It was to celebrate a first-time voter.
At Perryville High School, almost 200 voters lined up to cast their ballots before doors opened at 7:00 a.m. By mid-morning, the line stretched around the school and down past the football field, and the parking lot was close to full.
Jo Anne Fuller and her husband Ken said they don’t trust their ballots in the mail. They decided to come out on election day because they want to make sure their votes count. From the length of the line behind them, a number of other voters had the same mindset.
“It’s the biggest turnout I’ve seen since I started voting,” Jo Anne said. “There’s more people voting than there has been before. I think a lot of people took it for granted.”
Jessica Leitgeb, who waited in line with her husband and their three school-age daughters, said she wants them to understand the importance of making a decision and casting a ballot.
“It’s tradition,” she said. “We always come out as a family on election day.”
Gail Soth, another Perryville voter, was glad to see that voters are so engaged.
“It’s a very good feeling to come out here and to make your voice count,” she said.
Denise Yeager, who was standing just behind Soth, was shocked by the turnout.
“We’ve lived here almost 17 years and this is the most I’ve ever seen turn out for an election,” Yeager said.
Robert Bailey, standing a little way up, joked that he decided to vote on election day because he loves waiting in line.
“This is a little different from how it usually is,” he said. “Usually I just walk right in.”
He said that while his wife voted by absentee ballot, he planned to vote early in-person but was discouraged by the consistent lines at the county administration building, which hosted early voting throughout the last week.
“I drove over to Elkton to do early voting twice, and the line went around the building both times,” he said.
Some voters chatted as the line moved up, while others came prepared for a long wait — Erin McCourt had a bag of yarn on her shoulder and was crocheting. She said she had only just started a square when she arrived, and almost an hour later had a quilt square which spread across the palm of her hand.
Thinking about the election, McCourt said she was feeling nervous.
“I’m just trying to stay busy,” she said.
Abigale Linton, who graduated from Perryville High School in 2018, waited to cast her first ballot in a presidential election. She was also feeling nervous about how the election would shake out on a national scale.
“There’s been a lot of tension throughout the country,” Linton said. “Whichever way this goes, it’s going to be interesting.”