Election Passes Almost Unnoticed

Little Fanfare, Less Interest As Voter Apathy Keeps Polling Places Quiet

March 04, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

Presidential hopefuls didn't jog through Westminster yesterday, the charter board campaign didn't produce catchy phrases and ferocious episodes of mudslinging, and, as is usually the case in a Carroll primary, throngs of voters stayed away from the polls.

Election officials said yesterday that Carroll's contribution to Junior Tuesday -- so-called because seven states held either a primary or a caucus -- would be much the same as usual, with voter turnout reported as steady but not particularly heavy.

While they weren't able to predict the final tally, officials hadexpected the number of Carroll's 56,503 registered voters at the polls wouldn't be much higher than 1988's 32 percent. However, early returns put the percentage slightly higher.

In addition to picking presidential candidates from the two parties, county voters were asked to choose candidates for seats in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and one of two slates of community leaders who will write a proposed charter.

And they were asked to do that amid little fanfare. Former California Gov. Edmund G. Brown may have jogged through EastBaltimore after spending the night in a homeless shelter, but as hasbeen the case for the last 80 years, Pat Buchanan's canceled appearance in Westminster Friday was the closest any presidential candidate came to Carroll.

During most of the day, the county's polling places were free of electioneering, save for a few people pushing one or the other slate of charter board members.

"I don't think there's been a groundswell of people coming out today," said William Sraver ashe stood outside the Reese Volunteer Fire Company social hall. As treasurer of the Citizens for the Commissioners' Charter Board, Sraver planned to remain in the parking lot until the polls closed.

Perhaps it was fitting that most electioneering centered around the charter. More than a few seemed confused on what the charter race was all about and were drawn to the polls for either the presidential or congressional races.

Elmer Henry, casting his vote at the Winfield FireHall, said while looking at the list of Democratic hopefuls, "You really don't have too good of a choice."

He was looking forward to voting for Thomas Hattery, a Democrat who opposed seven-term incumbentBeverly Byron.

Raymond and Regina Muhl, who recently moved to Taneytown from Baltimore County, came to Francis Scott Key High in Uniontown to vote for presidential hopeful Paul Tsongas.

"He seems likehe's more for the people," said Regina, 68, who has been voting regularly since she was 21.

"There's nobody else I like," added her husband, who is 70.

Drawing Connie Nagel to the polls at Freedom Elementary School was the U.S. Senate race. The Democrat was not interested in re-electing Barbara Mikulski.

"This race is very important to me," she said. "I work in government, and there is a lot of excessspending. I am voting someone different. We need a change."

For Republican Mona Mely of Mount Airy, the economy and a need for gettingtough on crime attracted her to the polls.

"I hope the election either encourages President Bush or scares him. He's done a lot of good but probably needs a boost."

She didn't vote in the charter election because she didn't "want to give somebody credit for doing something" she's not sure about.

Roger Groomes of Westminster practicedvoting during yesterday's primary.

At 4, he's a bit short of the 18-year-old age rule, but he was anxious to try.

For most of the 380 election judges, who were paid between $75 and $150 for the day, yesterday was low-key, allowing some the chance to snack.

"We've been eating lots of goodies," said Richard Shamer, a Republican election judge at the Reese Fire Hall. "If we had an election every day, it wouldn't be good for my waist."

While voting took place in a tiny room crammed with five judges and four booths at Middleburg United Methodist Church, a group of church women was selling baked goods, soupand coffee.

Absenteeism among the judges -- a problem in other counties and in Baltimore -- was almost non-existent yesterday. Only eight of the judges called in sick, uninterested or otherwise unable toshow up at the polls.

Staff writers Amy Miller, Greg Tasker, Daniel P. Clemens Jr., Kerry O'Rourke, Mary Gail Hare and Ellie Baublitz contributed to this story.

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