For the first day of early voting in Frederick’s city primary elections Wednesday, candidates’ signs lined the entrance to the site along New Design Road, while cardboard placards urged residents to “Vote Here.”
But for much of the morning, the site at the former Trinity School near Harry Grove Stadium and Mount Olivet Cemetery more resembled a Maytag repair shop in an old commercial than a bustling center of the electoral process.
By noon, the center had seen 19 voters since opening at 7 a.m.
By the time polls closed at 8 p.m., the number had risen to 38, with six Republican ballots and 32 Democratic ones.
In 2017, the city’s primary elections saw less than 14 percent turnout.
But Mike Ferrell, the Republican chief judge, wasn’t too concerned about Wednesday’s turnout.
The city had sent mail-in ballots to residents, as well as set up seven drop box locations around the city where voters could take their ballots.
“This is an emerging concept,” Ferrell said of the new voting location and process.
Barbara Wagner, director of the county’s Board of Elections, said they’ve been getting plenty of ballots both from the drop boxes and in the mail.
Wagner said she expects primary day on Sept. 14 to be busier at the voting site. Early voting continues from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Saturday at the New Design Road location.
The city’s mayoral Democratic primary includes current Mayor Michael O’Connor, Alderman Roger Wilson, former mayor Jennifer Dougherty and John Funderburk. The Republican primary is between candidates Steve Garrahy and Steven Hammrick.
The alderman’s race features Democratic incumbents Donna Kuzemchak, Ben MacShane, Kelly Russell and Derek Shackelford, and challengers Katie Nash, Chris Sparks and Robert Van Rens.
Because there are fewer than five Republican candidates, Republicans Michelle Shay and Robert Fischer will automatically move into the Nov. 2 general election.
Drop box locations include the Trinity School voting center at 6040 New Design Road, the Frederick County Board of Elections office, Talley Recreation Center, Hillcrest Commons, the Housing Authority office, Frederick Community College and Gov. Thomas Johnson High School.
Voter Zelda Irby said she was surprised by how few people had come out by around lunch time Wednesday.
A relatively new addition to Frederick from Montgomery County, Irby said she’s voted wherever she’s lived.
“I always want to vote. I’m an American citizen.”