BY MIDYA MCPHERSON
Early voting for city elections ended November 1 with a record turnout as Takoma Park prepares to elect a new mayor and fill council seats. Also on the ballot is an advisory vote to change the election date to coincide with Maryland statewide general elections.
“We had a great turn out of voters throughout the week,” said Marilyn Abbott, Chairman of the Board of Elections. “All the wards were represented fairly–we conducted voting in wards 5 and 6 over the weekend.”
Many of the voters who came out said that it is important to elect people who want to create positive changes for the Takoma Park community.
Early voters November 1. Photo by Midya McPherson.
One voter Susan Baker of Ward 1, brought along her 16 year old daughter, Vivian Bauer.
“My mom works for the government but I also think it’s an important thing to do,” said Bauer 16, who was voting for the first time.
Susan Baker said that Takoma Park needs people who are going to work hard and to solve problems facing many residents.
Takoma Park city council passed a number of charter amendments in recent years regarding voting. The laws now allow 16 and 17 year old to vote in city elections.
Also unique to Takoma, convicted felons who have served full court-ordered sentences are allowed to vote in city elections.
Ballot boxes arranged by ward. Photo by Midya McPherson.
Non-citizens have been allowed to vote in city elections since the early nineties.
Yibeltal Belachew, a non-citizen who resides in Ward 5 was voting for the first time.
“Where I came from in Ethiopia, I never voted because it wasn’t transparent,” said Belachew. “This is more open, although small. At least it is more transparent in my view,” he said.
Belachew also said that he wanted to support his representative, Jarrett Smith because he shows interest in the issues of the people.
By 7 p.m. on Sunday, the city clerk counted 877 total early votes. Of those votes, 784 were done in-person and roughly 93 were absentee or mail-in votes.
76 in-person votes were counted on Wednesday, 75 on Thursday, 89 on Friday, 227 on Saturday and 317 on Sunday.
“[However], there were a few people who had change of address issues and there were some new registrations for younger voters,” said city clerk, Jessie Carpenter.
“As far as we know, people had no major problems voting,” she said.
Election day is Tuesday at the Takoma Park Community Center at 7500 Maple Avenue.