Just hold the election rhetoric


Maryland Votes 2006 -- The Primary Election

September 13, 2006|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN REPORTER

Julie Thirolf was a few seconds into her campaign monologue, imploring a potential voter to cast his ballot for her candidate, when she was stopped cold. Donald Owens, a resident of the city's Mount Vernon community, had heard pitches like this before and was not about to stay put for rhetoric.

"I've been voting for over 40 years," Owens said to Thirolf. "I know who I'm voting for."

And with that, Owens stepped into the Chase House in the 1000 block of Cathedral St. and exercised his right.

Thirolf, unfazed and wearing a red-and-gold Elect Team 40 T-shirt, went up to the next person she saw and started all over again.

Such was life in and around voting precincts in Maryland yesterday, where the interactions between campaign workers and voters ranged from friendly to hostile to dangerous.

Armed robbery

A campaign volunteer for Stephan W. Fogleman, a candidate for Baltimore state's attorney, was robbed at gunpoint early yesterday while he was posting campaign signs, authorities said.

The volunteer, and campaign manager Rob Leonard, were posting signs about 2 a.m. at George W.F. McMechen Middle/High School in Northwest Baltimore when an armed man confronted the volunteer, Leonard said. The man robbed the volunteer of his wallet, which contained cash and credit cards, and then fled, according to police.

The volunteer was not injured, and he and Leonard went to a gas station and called police, who searched for the robber but did not catch him, police said.

Fogleman, who is running against incumbent Patricia C. Jessamy in the Democratic primary, said he was preparing to head out to the polls in the early morning when he learned of the incident.

"We're not trying to exploit his situation, but I'm so disgusted with what happened to him," Fogleman said. "That's one of the reasons I'm running for state's attorney."

Fliers and strategy

In Baltimore County, as Lillian Perry, 64, of Owings Mills left the voting area at Owings Mills High School, she paused at the oversized gray trash can.

In one fell swoop, she plopped a dozen or so political brochures onto a growing heap of discarded fliers that had been thrust into the hands of voters.

"I don't really need it," she said. "I came here with my mind already made up, so [the fliers] don't make a difference."

Don't tell that to the throng of faithful supporters who lined the sidewalk leading to the school's front door.

"I try to keep my distance because I don't want to bombard them, but I want them to remember my candidate's name and face," said Etta Hankerson, a social worker who recently relocated from Virginia Beach, Va.

Hankerson, who pleaded with voters to select Leronia A. Josey for Baltimore County Orphans' Court judge, said her strategy was to position herself at the end of the line.

"You want yours to be the last face they see as they go in," she said.

Looking for voters

At 1:15 p.m., surrounded by about 15 poll workers and staff members, Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Anthony G. Brown, Howard County Executive James N. Robey, County Councilman Ken Ulman and Circuit Judge Louis A. Becker stood outside Deep Run Elementary School in Elkridge and looked in vain for voters.

Turnout was so poor early in the day that the candidates outnumbered those casting ballots. By 11 a.m., 113 of more than 3,000 registered voters in the precinct had voted at Deep Run, which is near Interstate 95 and Route 175.

"This is the lightest I've ever seen," said Robey, who, because of term limits, is prohibited from running again for county executive and is a candidate for state Senate. "I've never had to stand here for 10 or 15 minutes and not have anyone walk in."

A little reward

Outside the polling place at Chesapeake Bay Middle School in Pasadena, Sharon Kaspary - a volunteer supporting Republican Steve Schuh, who is running for the House of Delegates in District 31 - was handing out Tootsie Rolls in red, white and blue wrappers to arriving, and departing, voters.

"I don't ask if you're Republican or Democrat," said Kaspary, 47, an elementary school teacher from Severna Park. "You should just be rewarded for voting."


Some voters found the new electronic poll books and voting machines confusing, including senior citizens casting ballots at Keswick Multi-Care Center in North Baltimore.

"I thought it was terrible," said Edith Furstenberg, 96. "That's the most difficulty I've ever had."

Betsy Haas, 94, had to fill out a provisional ballot after problems with her electronic registration.

"Everybody's having trouble, not just the senior citizens," she said. "Yes, I'm frustrated. I'll give up voting now."

`A crucial time'

Gary Logan, a 64-year-old retired correctional officer from Randallstown, said he never misses voting in an election because his brother and sister were assaulted while registering people to vote in the South in the 1960s.

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