As she left the polls in Severna Park yesterday afternoon, Doris Fobare found herself giving an impromptu civics lesson to her 4-year-old granddaughter.
The child wanted to know what elections were all about. "I told her, 'In this day and time, it's when you vote one set of crummies out and vote another set in," the 56-year-old grandmother said.
The competition among poll workers at Pikesville Senior High School was stiff yesterday and Lee Hendler wanted to break out of the pack. "Vote for Hayden," said one.
"Vote Against Question T. This will limit county services," said another.
"Vote for George Wallace," Mr. Hendler called out.
The man behind the voice smiled.
"I wanted to get your attention," said Mr. Hendler, a 22-year-old poll worker for Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, "and I did."
"A lot of people don't want to be bothered," Mr. Hendler said, of voters' indifference to the fists full of literature thrust their way. "I tell them I don't want to pontificate but I don't want them to be misinformed."
Election Day can be a humbling experience, even for a candidate who is running unopposed.
Delegate Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg thrust a yellow Democratic slate ballot -- that included his name -- toward a voter yesterday and started to introduce himself. "Sandy Rosenberg," the delegate said, but the voter cut him off.
"I'm already voting for him," the man said as he --ed into a Northwest Baltimore middle school to cast his ballot.
When the voter exited the school, he flashed Mr. Rosenberg a smile. The legislator tried to reassure himself. "He knew who I was," Mr. Rosenberg said aloud.
But did he?
"Do you know Sandy Rosenberg?" the voter was asked.
"Frankly, I don't," came the reply. "What's he running for?"
Jeffrey Goldman brought his political consultant with him when he
went to vote yesterday.
Mr. Goldman's 14-year-old son, Paul, a student at Pikesville Senior High School, had his own special way of recommending a slate of candidates.
"I'll look at the names and I'll just try to pick the best one," said the younger Goldman.
On the question of the controversial tax cap, the Baltimore County teen-ager was relying on a higher authority. His homeroom teacher had advised everyone to vote against the tax cap because it would hurt schools, the young Goldman said.
"Did they give you the pros and cons?" the teen-ager's father asked him.
"No, they just said vote against it," said the youngster.
Clutching identical Giant shopping bags, the two elderly women hobbled from the voting booths at Fallstaff Manor Middle School.
"I'm Carpenter. She's Sloan," said Cecile Carpenter, 79, as she introduced herself and her 75-year-old sister, Esther Sloan. "My eyes are running. My nose is running. We can't talk too long."
The two sisters, bundled against the cold in coats and wool caps, had walked from their nearby Northwest Baltimore apartment to cast their votes for one man -- Governor Schaefer.
"I wish he'd run for president," said Ms. Carpenter. "I don't like nobody bad-mouthing him. What more can the man do? What do they want, God the Second?"
They say it's progress. But some voters aren't wild about Anne Arundel County's new computerized voting system.
"We had a few people get so mad about it that they left without voting," said Jane Conn, an election judge at Severna Park High School.
The system requires voters to mark their choices in pencil on a special paper ballot, then feed the ballot into a computer. It was used in the county during the September primary, though some voters encountered the system for the first time yesterday.
"I can't believe we're going backward. Paper ballots again!" one woman muttered after casting her vote.
Agnes Smith knew Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. when he was "a little boy." She knew his late father, J. Joseph Curran Sr., when he was in "knickers."
And as long as the father was running for a political office -- and then the son after him -- Agnes Smith has been working a poll for the Curran clan.
"Never missed a day since I was 21 and I'm 82," said Mrs. Smith, who was sitting in the sun behind St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Govans, handing out ballots for the incumbent Democrats.
"My mother had 10 children and they were after that vote all the time," she added.
Yesterday, Mrs. Smith and two friends drove from Ocean City to work this Northeast Baltimore poll for the attorney general and the rest of the Democratic slate. "The drive's nice. And I love doing this," she said.