BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Enthusiasm remained high despite the long lines at polling places across Maryland for the first day of early voting Monday.

More than 161,000 Marylanders cast their ballots on the state’s first day of early in-person voting, breaking the state’s previous single-day record of 143,494 in 2016. Nearly 1,000 people registered at the polls Monday.

Experts are predicting unusually high turnout this year, especially among young voters. Officials are encouraging people to vote early and at off-peak times to limit crowds and wait times.

More than 11,000 people cast their ballots in Baltimore. City Elections Director Armstead Jones said things were “so far, so good.” Another 18,000 voted at 11 sites across Baltimore County, including at the Woodlawn Community Center.

“I am 74 years old and I have always voted in person,” Marcia Hicks explained to WJZ, adding she felt voting in-person was more secure.

“It’s important that I fill out my ballot and I put it through the machine,” she added.

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Anne Arundel County, meanwhile, hit a record for single-day early voting turnout, and in Harford County, some voters waited in line for close to three hours.

That wasn’t a deterrent for Greg Kachor.

“It’s a critical election and a juncture in the history of our country,” Kachor said.

Despite the pandemic and mask requirements, it’s an option some said was an important one.

“I like to be the first at any opportunity I have, so it just felt right to go and vote early,” said early voter Hugh Saffery.

“I chose in-person voting because I believe that’s the only way for my vote to counted,” said early voter Eden Moshi.

Many voters wanted to come in person, agreeing with Hicks that they felt it was more secure.

“If I vote personally at the booth, I know it’s counted,“ Edison Perkins, a veteran, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “I walk with a walker and it was too hard to stand up long,” he said, but he insisted he would cast his ballot before the election.

“You can feel the emotional intensity,” voter Edward Hartman added.

Wanda Wilkerson said she had no problem waiting to cast her ballot.

“Even if it was 10,000 people, I would stand in this line and vote,” she said.

While the voting centers didn’t open until 7 a.m., some eager voters began lining up hours early.

“My knees hurt. I’m freezing cold. This is very powerful for me. My nana is 83 years old and she’s going to be voting too. So is my dad. We care,” said Stacie Locust.

So far, more than 1.6 million mail-in ballots have been sent to Maryland voters, more than half of which have been returned.

Political science professor Matthew Crenson from Johns Hopkins said nationally and in Maryland there’s going to be unusually high-person turnout too.

“Resentment and outrage on both sides, that’s what’s driving the turnout and it’s not going to go away after the election is over no matter who wins,” he said.

Earlier this week, at Georgia’s largest polling place, a three-hour line stretched through Atlanta’s NBA arena.

And long lines greeted Texans looking to vote early in the Lone Star State with three million new voters registered since the last presidential election.

In Maryland, roughly 80 early voting centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through November 2. One of those will be at Camden Yards, one of many stadiums around the country to be converted into a polling place.

Crenson said he’s expecting many more young people including millennials to be at the polls this year, a trend he said has been on the rise since the early 2000s.

“Usually they vote at lower rates than people of my age, but this time it appears they’re going to vote in very large numbers,” Crenson said.

Maryland election officials said that anyone voting in-person will need to wear a mask, unless he or she has a medical condition or disability where a mask would impede communication.

Eligible voters can cast their ballot at any authorized voting location within their jurisdiction of residence.

If you’re looking for a specific early polling center in your area, check out the full list here.

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