A County Council Committee this afternoon will discuss absentee ballots that were sent with missing pages, incorrectly translated voter guides and long lines at polling places in a briefing on last fall’s General Election.
Members of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee expect to hear from State Board of Elections administrator Linda Lamone, deputy administrator Ross Goldstein, County Board of Elections President Mary Ann Keeffe and election director Margaret Jurgensen at 2 p.m. in Rockville.
Few voters in Bethesda complained of long waits at polling places. But Ken Timmerman, the Kensington Republican who took on and lost to incumbent Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D), questioned the accuracy of poll results in a November Public Information Act request of the County Board of Elections.
He claimed there were precincts in the district without a single Republican vote and argued the state must enforce a 2007 law that established the replacement of touch-screen machines with optical scanner voting machines.
Construction Of East-West Highway Office To Cause Lane Closure — Construction crews are ready for mass excavation at 4500 East-West Highway, where the McDonald’s was torn down to make way for a new office building. Crews will close the west lane of Pearl Street in the next few weeks. The shot crossing street will become one-way between East-West Highway and Montgomery Avenue. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]
Bike Groups Against State Mandatory Helmet Law — Bike advocates know helmet-use means safer bicycling, but they say a law that would require it being discussed in the Maryland legislature will cause fewer people to ride, perhaps making drivers less aware that bicyclists are out there and causing more accidents. [Washington Post]
Bethesda Art Walk Tonight — The monthly event takes art-seekers through a collection of studios and spaces and will coincide with the opening reception for Gallery B’s February exhibit of local photographers. Reception starts at 6 p.m. [Bethesda Urban Partnership]
Public Hearing On Redistricting, Voting Precinct Changes — The Montgomery County Board of Elections will hold a public hearing from 10 a.m. to noon on March 2 at its Gaithersburg headquarters to discuss realigned voting precincts that are expected to go into effect for the 2014 election cycle. [Montgomery County Board of Elections]
Flickr photo by katharine brainard
Montgomery County voters played a significant role in helping Maryland become one of the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Officials in Maryland and Maine, both with same-sex marriage questions on the ballot yesterday, took the claim as the first state to achieve the historic designation. Either way, gay couples will be able to marry in Maryland starting Jan. 1 and Montgomery County voters appeared to shoulder much of the load in ensuring that at the polls.
Statewide, 51.9 percent voted in favor of upholding the law that establishes same-sex marriage while 48.1 percent voted against for a raw total of 1,252,568 for and 1,158,719 against. That gave gay marriage supporters a positive margin of almost 94,000 votes.
In Montgomery County alone, the margin in favor of same-sex marriage was 119,910.
It was by far the largest margin in favor of Question 6 of all six jurisdictions that ended up for same-sex marriage. The majority of voters in Baltimore City, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County and Frederick County also voted for Question 6, according to state election data.
About 4,000 more voters in Prince George’s County, one of the state’s other large jurisdictions, voted against Question 6 than for it.
On expanded casino gambling, which was approved by a 52 percent to 48 percent split, the margin of Montgomery County voters in favor (about 38,000 votes) was less pronounced.
Montgomery County voters were for the Dream Act by more than a 2 to 1 ratio, similar to results in Prince George’s County and Baltimore.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) of Kensington won reelection by the smallest margin since he first won his House seat against incumbent Republican Connie Morella in 2002. But despite a reconfigured 8th Congressional District that includes parts of more conservative Fredrick and Carroll Counties, Van Hollen still won with a comfortable 62.5 percent of the vote.
Republican challenger Ken Timmerman, also of Kensington, won slight margins of victory in Frederick and Carroll Counties. But Montgomery County voters in District 8 voted for Van Hollen by an overwhelming ratio of more than 3 to 1.
Potomac resident and independent Senate candidate Rob Sobhani got almost 17 percent of the statewide vote after an aggressive advertising campaign. Still, most of that support seemed to come from Baltimore County, where Sobhani saw the most raw voting support of any jurisdiction. Incumbent Ben Cardin (D) won with 55 percent of the vote.
Barack Obama won Maryland with 61.4 percent of the vote and 70.6 percent of the Montgomery County vote. Just more than 27 percent of county voters chose Republican Mitt Romney, compared to 36.5 percent statewide.
(UPDATE at 12:05 a.m.) With almost 90 percent of state precincts reporting, some are declaring victory for same-sex marriage advocates in Maryland. The Washington Post has projected the law will pass. The latest raw numbers show a nearly 47,000 vote edge in favor of same-sex marriage.
Expanded casino gambling advocates are celebrating what they say is a Question 7 victory tonight. The Dream Act will also pass, according to projections.
(UPDATE at 10:50 p.m.) With half of state precincts reporting, 51 percent of Maryland voters approved same-sex marriage, an approximately 32,000 margin for Question 6 supporters.
Casino gambling is almost as close, with 51.5 percent in favor of expanded gaming.With 35 percent of the vote counted in Montgomery County, the county Board of Elections reports 57 percent are in favor of ending police effects bargaining.
(UPDATE at 8:25 p.m.) Montgomery County early voting results are in and show large advantages for incumbent Democrats President Barack Obama, Senator Ben Cardin and District 8 Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
On Montgomery County police effects bargaining, 38,131, or 54 percent, voted to uphold a law that would repeal police effects bargaining. Just more than 32,000 early voters voted against the law, siding with police union officials.
Almost 78 percent of Montgomery County early voters supported Question 4, the Dream act. More than 68 percent of early voters voted for Question 5, which would uphold a redistricting map many county leaders were solidly against. Almost 70 percent of voters were for Question 6, same-sex marriage and more than 54 percent were for expanded casino gambling.
Early voters in the county gave the same-sex marriage act an almost 30,000 vote edge, with 52,178 for and 23,411 against.
(UPDATE at 8:03 p.m.) Multiple media outlets are calling Maryland for President Barack Obama as the polls close at 8 p.m. Senator Ben Cardin (D) will also win the Senate race, according to NBC News.
Montgomery County Board of Elections officials say local results from today’s election should start coming in at 9:20 p.m. and be updated every 20 minutes.
Early voting results will be tabulated and available as soon after 8 p.m. as possible. Almost 13 percent of all Montgomery County voters did early voting.
Many eyes locally will be on ballot question results, including a county police bargaining rights question and four high profile state questions. At the end of the night, Maryland could be the first state to approve same-sex marriage by referendum. There could also be a Las Vegas-style casino destined for Prince George’s County and the passage of the Dream Act, which would allow children of illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition to state colleges.
Polls opened today at 7 a.m. in 32 Bethesda and Chevy Chase voting precincts, many with lines extending onto sidewalks or parking lots outside.
Those who had just finished voting at the Bethesda Library and Bethesda Elementary School on Arlington Road reported wait times ranging from 30 minutes to a little more than an hour, which they said was an agreeable amount considering the length on the ballot.
Almost 78,000 people cast ballots in early voting, about 12.6 percent of Montgomery County’s voting population, according to The Gazette. Polls close at 8 p.m. The list of ballot box locations and links to where you can find your precinct is here.
Bethesda voters tomorrow will encounter the longest ballot in Montgomery County in 20 years, full of high profile ballot questions that, at least locally, will dominate much of the talk surrounding the election.
As you prepare to head to the polls, check out our quick primer:
Maryland’s 8th Congressional District: Few expect Republican challenger Ken Timmerman to put up much of a fight against five-term incumbent and leading Democratic lawmaker Chris Van Hollen, even in a radically altered district that reaches all the way up to parts of more conservative and rural Frederick and Carroll Counties.
Despite Timmerman’s claims of a competitive race, he’s received little attention in heavily Democratic downcounty Montgomery and Bethesda. Pollsters didn’t even conduct a poll. Van Hollen has spent much of the months leading up to the election helping others, both on the national stage and in other competitive House races.
Timmerman, a Kensington neighbor of Van Hollen’s, has run on a platform of less government and conservative views on many social issues. He has tried to position himself as the choice for Jewish voters by attacking Van Hollen’s record on Israel, calling Van Hollen “a fair weather friend of Israel.” Last week, a Tea Party group came to Kensington to support Timmerman, an investigative journalist and author.
In a contentious September debate, Van Hollen accused Timmerman of distorting his record and the facts, especially on the budget. Van Hollen is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee. At a later candidates forum, Van Hollen said he has “never seen such gutter politics in our community.”
MCPS, County Government, Federal Government All Open Wednesday — The D.C. region gets back to normal after two days of Hurricane Sandy cancellations. Metro reopened Tuesday afternoon with a Sunday schedule, and will be back to a normal weekday schedule today. [Washington Post]
Group Says North Bethesda Haunted House Disrespectful — A group of people identifying themselves with the Marshall Islands says The Warehouse: Project 4.1 should rebrand after basing part of its haunted house story on nuclear testing gone wrong in the Marshall Islands. The group even started a petition that says the company behind the haunted house “has chosen to capitalize on the tragic past of a small island nation for profit and entertainment.” [The Gazette] [Change.org]
Early Voting Reopens, Extended — After Sandy led to two cancelled days of early voting, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has extended hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at all polling places and ordered they open through Friday. [Montgomery County BOE]
Flickr photo by Signalbot
Volunteers from the Board’s Multicultural Outreach Committee and Future Vote Program will be on hand to help register voters for the 2012 General Election on Nov. 6.
The deadline to register is Oct. 16.
In addition to the Presidential and Congressional elections, the ballot will include three major ballot questions: the Dream Act Referendum, the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum and a Casino Referendum that would allow a Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s County and live table games at existing state casinos.