BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Early voting ended at 8 p.m., but the lines didn’t end there.
Election officials said those lined up before 8 p.m. would still be able to cast their ballot. The line rivaled that of one in an amusement park.
Dawn Noga was the last person allowed in line at a polling place in Odenton on Thursday, just making the 8 p.m. deadline.
The line continued around the block and further of the polling place in Odenton, with people still waiting past 8 p.m. even though the wait would be reportedly two hours, or more.
But spirits were high outside the Odenton Regional Library about the wait.
“Six hours, it could have been 12. It doesn’t matter,” said Aketu Africa, a voter in line.
Africa said as long as she gets her ballot in on this final day of early voting in Maryland it didn’t matter.
“I wanna make sure that we’re being represented that is conducive to what we want,” Africa said.
Sunny Kamara said her wait was about an hour and a half. She thought voting early would translate to voting quickly.
“I was thinking maybe 10, 15 minutes given the fact that it’s early voting, clearly that wasn’t the situation here,” Kamara said.
Thursday was the last day for early voting in Maryland, and as of Wednesday night, more than 500,000 Marylanders had cast ballots, a significantly higher number than in the early voting period before the 2014 gubernatorial election.
That’s more than double the number from the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Board of Elections Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson said voter interest is high.
“This is a big election, statewide, congressional, all the way down to the county council,” Charlson said. “It seems to be reflective of what’s happening around the country with voters being engaged,”
Part of that engagement may be due to the encouragement to vote received throughout the process from both of the state’s gubernatorial candidates, incumbent Republican Larry Hogan and Democratic challenger Ben Jealous.
“We’ve said from the very beginning if we vote we win,” Jealous said. “When turnout goes up it’s good for us and what we’re seeing is that turnout is way up,”
Gov. Hogan cast his ballot in Annapolis on Thursday when 93,000 Marylanders voted early.
“It’s about twice what it was in the last gubernatorial election,” Hogan said of the turnout. “We think it’s terrific and the more people that are voting the better and we feel really good about it,”
Thursday will be the final chance Maryland voters have to cast their ballots before Election Day on November 6.