Slow Day Continues at Hyattsville Polls
Election workers have a lot of free time on their hands as primary election day drags on with low turnout.
Voting continues throughout the state and here in Hyattsville as Maryland voters cast ballots to choose their party's standard bearers in the general election. However, the story of the day continues to be the low voter turnout being reported across the county, where voter turnout was only 5.9 percent of registered voters as of 3 p.m., according to county election officials.
At Nicholas Orem Middle School, polling place for precinct 16-04, shortly before 5 p.m. only 144 people had cast ballots, split between 115 Democrats and 26 Republicans, according to election officials.
Sharon Eckenrode, the Republican chief judge at Nicholas Orem said that primary elections are usually slower than general elections.
"I think people don't see the importance of a primary," said Eckenrode. "And in Maryland, unaffiliated people, they can't really vote other than by provisional ballot."
Veronica Dabney, the Democratic chief judge at Nicholas Orem and a 10 year veteran election volunteer, said she was not surprised by the turnout.
"The primary has always been slow," said Dabney.
Joseph Early, an elderly retired naval veteran casting his ballot at Nicholas Orem, said that he voted for Newt Gingrich because "he's down to earth."
The pace of voting was a bit quicker over at precinct 16-03, whose polling place is Hyattsville Middle School. There, a total of 203 people had voted as of 3 p.m., according to election officials. That total was split between 169 Democrats, 27 Republicans and one non-affiliated ballot.
Democratic Chief Election Judge Gloria Rodriguez also emphasized the historically low-turnout in primary elections.
"You want to see something hot, you have to see a general election," said Rodriguez. "So don't get disheartened. Again, this is a primary. Many people are content to sit back support whoever the party supports as a whole."
Colleen Martucci, voting at Hyattsville Middle School, said that she voted for Newt Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination because "he's the best choice for the job."
"I like what he says, and he doesn't talk down to us," said Martucci. "All the other candidates are childish, not ready yet, from my point of view."
Voting has been especially slow at the Hyattsville Municipal Building, polling place for precinct 16-02. Election officials there say that only 99 people have cast ballots as of 5:30 p.m., split between 73 Democrats, 13 Republicans and eight provisional ballots.
Over at St. Mark's School polling place for precincts 21-12 and 21-19, retiree Donald Snyder said that he was supporting Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
"I don't like Obama, I don't like his policies," Snyder said. "I grew up in Michigan [Romney's] father was governor when I was in college and if he has two-thirds of what his father had— he’s the best deal we’ve got going.”
Merrit Cortez Joseph Hinton III, chief election judge for precinct 17-08, polling at the Hyattsville Library on Adelphi Road, said he understood why some Republicans might not cast ballots in this election.
“In a primarily democratic county, where the republicans are only eight to 10 percent, why come out?” said Hinton. “But you need to explain to them that when they come in November, they’re only voting for what 100 or so people voted for here.”