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First-Time Early Voting For A Presidential Election Draws Thousands To The Polls

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The final push for early voting draws huge crowds ahead of Election Day. The polls closed just two hours ago and the key issues on the ballot drew voters well into the night.

Kai Jackson has more on the dramatic turnout.

By most accounts, first-time early voting for a presidential election in Maryland was a huge success.

The lines were long and the passion for the issues was deep at the early voting center at Northern Parkway and Park Heights in Baltimore.

Turnout is high: As of Thursday, 57,984 early voters turned out in Montgomery County, which is 9.41 percent of the precinct; 51,545 voted in Prince George’s County, 9.06 percent of the precinct, 42,374 in Baltimore County, 8.22 percent of the precinct. More than 34,400 people voted early in Baltimore City. That was 8.77 percent of the precinct.

“I am encouraged. I’m glad to see the turnout. I really am,” Baltimore City’s Chief Election Judge Christel Perry said.

“This time around, you have a very, very close race. Close races usually result in a higher turnout,” Donn Worgs, political science professor at Towson University, said. “I think it really reflects the level of enthusiasm and excitement, maybe an anxiety about the election.”

People in Baltimore City tell WJZ they didn’t come out to vote early just because it’s convenient. They say there are issues that deserve a lot of attention.

In Maryland, numerous ballot issues also prompted a lot of early voting. Questions 4, 5,6 and 7 have been debated for months, while astronomical amounts of money has been dumped into advertisements trying to sway voters.

“There are a couple of issues on the ballot that I really feel very strongly about. And I wanted to make sure that I could get in, not be distracted by the crowd,” Benita Paschall, a Baltimore City resident, said.

Understandably, voters won’t agree on which candidates to elect or which way to vote on ballot questions. Yet, when it comes the issue of how many people have been voting early, there’s an encouraging consensus.

“I’m very encouraged. I’m glad that people are taking it serious and recognizing they have a right that they need to keep doing because, you know, it could be taken away from us at any time,” Michelle Upshur of Park Heights said.

Friday was the last day to cast your ballot ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The city said two early voting sites– Maritime Industries Academy on Sinclair Lane and St. Brigid’s Parish Center on East Avenue– have had very short lines.

State elections officials say as of 8 p.m., more than 92,000 Marylanders had cast their ballot on Friday.

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