Pam Kelly, who works for Gov. William Donald Schaefer in Annapolis, stood alone outside the Barclay Elementary School in Baltimore where voters from several precincts cast their ballots. Wearing a T-shirt with "Do It Now" stenciled across the front and holding a thick stack of ballots, Ms. Kelly looked up and down Barclay Street and along East 29th Street vainly attempting to spot a voter.
"You think the Maytag repairman is lonely," she said.
When an environmentally sensitive voter returned his sample ballot to her for reuse -- primary election recycling -- she smiled appreciatively and said there was little chance she would run short.
The picture was much the same in Howard County, where campaign posters vastly outnumbered voters filing into the Roger Carter Recreation Center, a polling place in Ellicott City.
At 11 a.m., the number of voters could be counted on one hand, and only one campaign worker greeted voters. A burly man with a "Stonesifer for Sheriff" T-shirt, he kept company with a county police officer, smiling as he handed out leaflets.
One voter who was handed a leaflet discarded it without looking at it.
It was, indeed, a long, slow morning at polling places throughout the metropolitan area yesterday -- the kind of day where campaign workers outnumbered voters and raced each other to stuff literature in the hands of the infrequent voter.
At a Baltimore recreation center on 10th Street in Brooklyn fewer than 30 people had shown up to vote between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. But that was 27 more than had come to a polling place in nearby Westport.
"We need a cannon to let people know we're here," said Irv Weibe Sr.
Little Arnold Adams Jr. had little trouble letting people know he was there. Wearing a Ralph Hughes for House of Delegates boater out in front of James Mosher Elementary School in West Baltimore, where he's a student, Arnold was jumping all over the sidewalk with enthusiasm for the democratic process.
Ralph Hughes is the best candidate, Arnold said, "because my mother is his secretary."
That was all the youngster knew about Mr. Hughes.
Asked how elections work, he said: "The person who gets the most votes gets whatever they're running for."
Then asked if he believed everything politicians said, Arnold nodded yes.
"Politicians are honest," said the 8-year-old. "They have to tell the truth, or they'll lose their job."
On Election Day, though, political advertisements don't always tell the truth.
Take the bright yellow T-shirt worn by William Foster, a 23-year-old poll worker for Nathaniel T. Oaks, a candidate for the House of Delegates from West Baltimore's 41st District. Mr. Foster's shirt urged voters to "Send Back to Annapolis, Delegate Nathaniel T. Oaks."
And the placards taped to two cars parked near the poll at St. Bernardine's Roman Catholic Church had a similar message; "Do the Right Thing -- Reelect Nathaniel T. Oaks."
The problem is Mr. Oaks hasn't been a delegate since 1989 when he lost his seat after being convicted in a double-dipping scheme. When a Baltimore judge earlier this summer reconsidered the sentence imposed on Mr. Oaks and placed him on probation, Mr. Oaks was free to run for his old seat.
Mr. Foster, who describes the former delegate as his mentor, said he's learned a lot from Mr. Oaks. "He told me it doesn't make you a man by the amount of times you get knocked down but the amount of times you get back up."
City Councilman Dominic Mimi DiPietro got back up again for yesterday's election despite his 85 years and the ill health of his wife, Frances.
Mr. DiPietro voted at School No. 237 in Highlandtown at 7 a.m., and made sure that Frances, who is recovering from surgery two weeks ago, got out and voted.
"She said, 'I'll be in my casket and he'll still make me come out and vote,'" a poll judge quoted Mrs. DiPietro as saying about her husband. "She had us all laughing."
Mr. DiPietro said he normally ventures to all of the precincts in the 26th Ward on Election Day. But he did all of his electioneering at School No. 237 yesterday, saying he wanted to be close to his wife.
"This is the first time I didn't make my rounds in 15 years," Mr. DiPietro said. "But I'm satisfied, because I brought my lady and she voted for me."