Despite weather, voter turnout 'steady' in Washington County

Charter home rule, school board on Washington County ballot

Charter home rule, school board on Washington County ballot

February 12, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

With about 25 years experience working the polls in Washington County elections, Emily Knode is used to surprises, both in the voting process and her own personal life.

As the primary election polls opened this morning at 7 at Clear Spring High School, Knode was contending with the effects of an overnight snowstorm as well as one malfunctioning voting machine.

"The custodians have kept the parking lot very clean," Knode said. And as for the voting machine, a traveling technician showed up quickly and fixed that problem.

Knode said she will never forget working the polls on Nov. 2, 2004. Her grandson was born that day and she and her husband remained at the school until the polls closed as was their duty, missing the birth.


"He'll be 4 this November," she said.

Knode said there are 1,800 registered voters at the Clear Spring High School polling place. By 9 a.m., she characterized the turnout as pretty steady and included many older voters who didn't let the weather stand in their way.

Elsewhere this morning, most polling places reported that voters were waiting when the doors opened.

"Turnout has been steady," said Eric Whitenton, chief judge at Sharpsburg Elementary School. The weather was a factor, voters told Whitenton.

Still there was a short line when the polls opened at 7 a.m., he said.

Pat Ardinger, chief judge at the Maugansville Ruritan Club polling place, said at 9 a.m. the workers there had been busy since the doors opened.

"There was one lady waiting when we arrived," Ardinger said.

No problems with the weather or the machines had been recorded by mid morning.

"Considering the weather, turnout has been pretty steady," said Lewis Payne, chief judge at the Potomac Valley Fire Company, at 9:10 a.m.

Payne said the county had plowed the fire company parking lot early so voters would have clear going as they arrived to vote.

Two voters were waiting at 7 p.m. as the doors opened. By 9 a.m., 15-20 voters had exercised their civic duty.

Chief Judge Lisa Sullivan had four people lined up to vote at 7 a.m. at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown.

She emphasized that the school custodians had been working hard to keep the parking lot clean as well as putting down mats inside and mopping up melting snow from the floors.

"So far, turnout has been good," she said.

Polls open until 8 p.m.

Polls will be open from until 8 p.m.

Washington County voters will decide today whether to approve charter home rule.

They will also cast ballots for presidential and 6th congressional district candidates, narrow the field of board of election candidates to eight and choose party delegates to the national conventions.

All registered voters, including independents, may cast ballots on the home rule question and for board of education candidates, who are nonpartisan.

The outcome of the ballot question on charter home rule could change the way Washington County is governed.

If the charter is approved, the county's governing body would change from a five-member board of commissioners to a seven-member county council.

That council would be able to pass local legislation without approval by the Maryland General Assembly, which now must vote on all Washington County bills.

The charter also would give voters the right to challenge some legislation passed by the council through referendum, or public vote.

Proponents of the charter say it will make local government more accountable to county residents. Opponents argue that it will destroy a system of checks and balances that exists between the General Assembly and county government.

The field of nine candidates running for the Washington County Board of Education includes two incumbents and three former board members.

Voters will select the eight candidates who will move forward to the Nov. 4 general election. The candidates in the nonpartisan race will compete in the general election for four open seats on the board. Board members serve four-year terms.

Democrats and Republicans each will select nominees to run for the congressional seat in the 6th District. There are five candidates on each side of the ballot.

Polling station 26-1 in District 2A has changed from Hickory Elementary School on Hickory School Drive in Halfway to St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center at 17630 Virginia Ave. in Hagerstown, Washington County Elections Board Director Dorothy Kaetzel said.

For more information

Today is Maryland's 2008 Primary Election. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On the Web

· The Herald-Mail will update election results all evening at

· For up-to-the-minute election results, see the Washington County Election Board Web site at

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