Kent County Election Results — Updated

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Bryan DiGregory, left, candidate for State’s Attorney, and William Short, right, candidate for Kent County Commissioner, holding their signs outside the Fire House in Chestertown on Election Day. DiGregory is assured of a win.  Short,  currently in 4th place, is waiting for the absentee ballot count, which could move him into a winning position. – Photo by Jane Jewell

With all 10 Kent County precincts reporting, here are the unofficial results for Kent County in the 2018 General Election. As of the close of polls Election Day, 8,307 of the county’s 13,119 registered voters had cast votes — an impressive 63.3% turnout. However, with almost 500 absentee ballot applications requested from the county for this election plus an unknown but smaller number of provisional ballots, several local races may not be decided until those votes are returned and counted later this month.

If the Election Day totals hold up, the Kent County Commissioners will be Bob Jacob, Tom Mason, and Ron Fithian. Fifthian would be the only incumbent re-elected. However, with a spread of 655 votes between current leader Jacob and sixth-place finisher Tom Timberman, the final order of the six candidates could change, with some of the first three winning slots changing hands. For example, Short, currently in 4th place, is waiting for the absentee ballot count, which might move him into a winning position. He would need to win at least 109 more votes than Fithian with the others holding steady.

The School Board will apparently see the return of Trish McGee and Wendy Costa along with newly elected Nivek Johnson. Again, absentee ballots could result in a different final tally — although current board President McGee, with a lead of more than 2,000 votes over second-place Costa, is clearly safe.  Incumbent Costa is 74 votes ahead of third-place Johnson while Johnson leads the only remaining candidate, Francois Sullivan, by 123 votes.  As the first three places win seats on the board, the final makeup of the board would only be changed if Sullivan garnered 124 more votes of the roughly 500 outstanding than Johnson, while Costa maintains a lead over Johnson.

Democrat and current Deputy State’s Attorney Bryan DiGregory holds a strong lead of 1,417 votes over former State’s Attorney Robert Strong, the Republican candidate.  With that lead, DiGregory is also assured of a win.

For Judge of the Orphans’ Courts which handles probated wills, the apparent winners are Amy L. Nickerson (Rep), Elroy G. Boyer, Jr. (Dem), and  Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll (Rep).  However, as only 244 votes separate the first place Nickerson from the fourth and last place candidate, the roughly 500-plus absentee and provisional ballots could not only change vote totals but also the list of winners.   There were four candidates in this race with three open slots.   Carroll, in third place, is ahead of  Allan Schauber (Dem) in fourth place by 126 votes.

Clerk Circuit Court Mark Mumford and Sheriff John Price ran unopposed and thus easily won re-election.  “Kristi” Osborn also ran unopposed and was elected as the Register of Wills. Harris Murphy, also unopposed, won election as the Judge of the Circuit Court.

In the state-wide races, Kent County voters followed the statewide trend in strongly supporting incumbent Governor Hogan over Democratic opponent Ben Jealous and voting to re-elect Senator Ben Cardin, Democrat, over Republican challenger Tony Campbell. Comptroller Peter Franchot and Attorney General Brian Frosh, both Democrats, also won reelection, with wide leads in the county as well as statewide.

Kent County bucked the wider trend regarding the First Congressional District, voting 4,389 to 3,676 so far for Democratic challenger Jesse Colvin over incumbent Republican Congressman Andrew Harris. District-wide, Harris is the projected winner with around 60% of the total vote district-wide.  Neighboring Talbot County also went for Colvin.

Signs near the Fire House in Chestertown with Dollar General in background. – Photo by Jane Jewell

In the District 36 Maryland General Assembly races, Republican Senator Steven Hershey and Republican Delegates Jay Jacobs, Jeff Ghrist, and Steve Arentz were re-elected with comfortable margins. The choices of  Kent County voters mirrored those of the other counties in the district.  Jacobs led the pack with a total of 5,646 votes from Kent County.  Arentz was second with 3,508 votes.  Third was Ghrist with 3,224.     District 36 is comprised of four counties – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s–all on the Eastern Shore. 

Two amendments to the state Constitution, one to restrict the use of funds raised by commercial gambling to educational purposes and the second to allow voter registration on Election Day, were both approved.

In some cases, such as the County Commissioner races, Early Voting figures favored Democratic candidates, but Election Day brought out Republican voters in enough numbers to reverse the trend.  In the Kent County Commission case, Early Voting ended with all three Democrats in the lead for the three available seats. Incumbent William Pickrum (Dem) was in first place and Democratic candidate Thomas Timberman in second place.  Incumbent Ron Fithian (Dem) was third.  But Election Day dropped Pickrum and Timberman to fifth and sixth places.  Fithian stayed at third.  Republican Bob Jacob surged to first place with a total of Early and Election Day Voting of 3,766.  With 655 votes separating first and sixth place and only roughly 500 absentee and provisional ballots left to count, it is unlikely that Jacob will lose a seat.  But incumbent William Short (Rep,) who is in 4th place, needs to pick up 109 more absentee/provisional votes than Fifthian to reach third place and a seat on the Kent County Commission. However, beyond that any change in the top three spots is unlikely.  The results of the Early Voting versus Election Day totals were not known until the Election Day totals were released.

Election Judge Allen Christy points the way to a voter. Election judge Jenny Lee on right. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Preliminary numbers are from the Maryland State Board of Elections as of 11 a,m. Wednesday.  This link leads to the official Maryland government site which will have the most up-to-date figures for all races in Kent County.  Those 11:00 am numbers for all offices are listed below at the end of the article.  These Wednesday morning totals are not expected to change until after Absentee ballots are counted.

Absentee ballots are counted in two rounds, the first on Thursday, Nov. 8 and the second on Friday, Nov. 16. Absentee ballots sent by mail must be postmarked by Nov 6 and must arrive at the Board of Elections by 10 a.m. Nov. 16 to be counted. Provisional ballots will be counted on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Then after the last count on Friday, Nov. 16, the final totals will be announced and the winners of each race will be officially certified and declared. For any office where the difference between any two candidates is significantly more than 500, it is very unlikely, if not impossible, that the outcome will change much from today’s Wed, Nov 7 totals. 

Past election history shows that the absentee and provisional ballots tend to follow the trends seen in the early and election day voting, generally favoring the same candidates.  Although totals for most candidates will obviously rise, the winners may not change.  Nonetheless, there can still be surprises in individual races.  And several of the Kent County candidates in both the Commissioner and Board of Education races are close enough that absentee ballots could make the difference. 

So it’s still a horse race!  The Spy will give updates as they come in with the first coming tomorrow, Thursday, when 248 of the of the already-received absentee ballots, will be examined and– if certified as valid by the Board of Canvassers–will be added to the current totals for each office. A total of 475 absentee ballots were applied for.  Of these 350 were returned by Election Day, Nov. 6. It should be pointed out that the total of returned and valid absentee/provisional ballots could turn out to be rather more or less than the estimated 500.  Not all of the outstanding 125 absentee ballots may be returned and the number of provisional ballots cast is still unknown and how many will be validated is also undetermined.  The provisionals include some people who requested absentee ballots then turned out to be able to make it to the polls on Election Day. All these variables will increase or decrease the total of outstanding ballots.  For the first canvass or count of absentee ballots on Nov. 8, the Board of Canvassers holds back enough of the received but unopened ballots so that the final result is not obvious until the remaining Absentee Ballots and the Provisional Ballots have a chance to come in and be certified and counted on Nov. 16.  This way everyone’s ballot is counted and no one’s vote is left out.

Stay tuned for more updates as they become publically available.

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Totals below are for the key contested races for Kent County offices.  Totals include Early Voting plus Election Day ballots but not the roughly 500-plus absentee plus provisional ballots.

Kent County Commissioners (Top three will be elected)

1st – 3,766 – Bob Jacob (Rep)

2nd – 3,632 – “Tom” Mason (Rep)

3rd – 3,571 – Ron Fithian (Dem)

4th – 3,463  – William Short (Rep)

5th – 3,358 – William Pickrum (Dem)

6th – 3,111 – Thomas F. Timberman (Dem)

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Board of Education (Non-partisan; top three will be elected.)

1st – 5,416 –  “Trish” McGee

2nd – 3,366 – Wendy Costa

3rd – 3,292 – Nivek M. Johnson

4th – 3,169 – Francoise Sullivan

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State’s Attorney (One will be elected.)

1st – 4,759 – Bryan DiGregory (Dem)

2nd – 3,288 – Robert H. Strong (Rep)

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Judge of Orphan’s Court (Top three will be elected)

1st – 4,189 Amy L. Nickerson (Rep)
2nd- 4,125 Elroy G. Boyer, Jr. (Dem)
3rd – 4,071 Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll (Rep)
4th – 3,945 Allan Schauber (Dem)

*****

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All tallies below are from the  State Board of Elections website.

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

County-Wide Races

Kent County Commissioner – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Bob Jacob
Republican 1,103 2,663 0 3,766 18.0%
“Tom” Mason
Republican 1,102 2,530 0 3,632 17.3%
William Short
Republican 1,149 2,314 0 3,463 16.5%
Ron Fithian
Democratic 1,434 2,137 0 3,571 17.1%
William Pickrum
Democratic 1,497 1,861 0 3,358 16.0%
Thomas F. Timberman
Democratic 1,473 1,638 0 3,111 14.9%
Other Write-Ins
11 27 0 38 0.2%

Board of Education – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Wendy Costa
1,313 2,053 0 3,366 22.0%
Nivek M. Johnson
1,271 2,021 0 3,292 21.5%
“Trish” McGee
1,997 3,419 0 5,416 35.3%
Francoise Sullivan
1,266 1,903 0 3,169 20.7%
Other Write-Ins
26 57 0 83 0.5%

State’s Attorney – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Robert H. Strong
Republican 879 2,409 0 3,288 40.8%
Bryan DiGregory
Democratic 2,036 2,723 0 4,759 59.1%
Other Write-Ins
2 9 0 11 0.1%

Judge of the Orphans’ Court – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll
Republican 1,316 2,755 0 4,071 24.9%
Amy L. Nickerson
Republican 1,307 2,882 0 4,189 25.6%
Elroy G. Boyer, Jr.
Democratic 1,765 2,360 0 4,125 25.2%
Allan Schauber
Democratic 1,679 2,266 0 3,945 24.1%
Other Write-Ins
10 27 0 37 0.2%

Judge of the Circuit Court – Judicial Circuit 2 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Harris Murphy
2,250 4,105 0 6,355 99.3%
Other Write-Ins
12 32 0 44 0.7%

Judge, Court of Special Appeals At Large – Donald E. Beachley – Vote Yes or No For continuance in office

(10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Donald E. Beachley Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Yes 2,003 3,628 0 5,631 87.1%
No 286 545 0 831 12.9%

Matthew J. Fader – Vote Yes or No  For continuance in office – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Matthew J. Fader Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Yes 1,942 3,536 0 5,478 86.8%
No 295 541 0 836 13.2%

Clerk of the Circuit Court – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Mark L. Mumford
Democratic 2,604 4,474 0 7,078 99.1%
Other Write-Ins
21 44 0 65 0.9%

Register of Wills –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
“Kristi” Osborn
Democratic 2,413 4,114 0 6,527 99.3%
Other Write-Ins
15 32 0 47 0.7%

Judge of the Orphans’ Court – Vote for up to 3 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Elizabeth “Betty” Carroll
Republican 1,316 2,755 0 4,071 24.9%
Amy L. Nickerson
Republican 1,307 2,882 0 4,189 25.6%
Elroy G. Boyer, Jr.
Democratic 1,765 2,360 0 4,125 25.2%
Allan Schauber
Democratic 1,679 2,266 0 3,945 24.1%
Other Write-Ins
10 27 0 37 0.2%

Sheriff –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
John F. Price
Republican 2,056 3,978 0 6,034 97.3%
Other Write-Ins
47 123 0 170 2.7%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

District-Wide Races

[District 36 is comprised of 4 Counties, all on the Eastern Shore – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties]

State Senator –  District 36 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Stephen S. Hershey, Jr.
Republican 1,345 3,178 0 4,523 56.7%
Heather Lynette Sinclair
Democratic 1,561 1,887 0 3,448 43.2%
Other Write-Ins
3 4 0 7 0.1%

 

Maryland House of Delegates – District 36 – Vote for up to 3 – No more than 1 per county – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Steven James Arentz (Queen Anne’s County)
Republican 1,021 2,487 0 3,508 17.6%
Jeff Ghrist (Caroline County)
Republican 947 2,277 0 3,224 16.2%
Jay A. Jacobs (Kent County)
Republican 1,818 3,828 0 5,646 28.4%
Keirien Taylor (Caroline County)
Democratic 1,100 1,195 0 2,295 11.5%
Michael Ian Welker (Cecil County)
Democratic 1,097 1,230 0 2,327 11.7%
Crystal Woodward (Queen Anne’s County)
Democratic 1,327 1,559 0 2,886 14.5%
Other Write-Ins
1 3 0 4 0.0%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

First Maryland  District for the US Congress

Representative in US Congress –  District 1 – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Andy Harris
Republican 1,003 2,673 0 3,676 44.9%
Jesse Colvin
Democratic 1,945 2,444 0 4,389 53.6%
Jenica Martin
Libertarian 24 91 0 115 1.4%
Other Write-Ins
0 4 0 4 0.0%

Official Kent County Vote Totals as of Wed., Nov, 7

State-Wide Races

Governor / Lt. Governor – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Larry Hogan and Boyd K. Rutherford
Republican 1,998 4,066 0 6,064 73.8%
Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull
Democratic 941 1,118 0 2,059 25.0%
Shawn Quinn and Christina Smith
Libertarian 12 28 0 40 0.5%
Ian Schlakman and Annie Chambers
Green 21 34 0 55 0.7%
Other Write-Ins
0 2 0 2 0.0%

 

Comptroller – Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Anjali Reed Phukan
Republican 636 1,798 0 2,434 30.5%
Peter Franchot
Democratic 2,264 3,268 0 5,532 69.4%
Other Write-Ins
0 4 0 4 0.1%

 

Attorney General –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Craig Wolf
Republican 1,082 2,806 0 3,888 48.7%
Brian E. Frosh
Democratic 1,824 2,276 0 4,100 51.3%
Other Write-Ins
0 2 0 2 0.0%

 

U.S. Senator –  Vote for 1 – (10 of 10 election day precincts reported)

Name Party Early Voting Election Day Absentee / Provisional Total Percentage
Tony Campbell
Republican 903 2,429 0 3,332 41.1%
Ben Cardin
Democratic 1,885 2,413 0 4,298 53.1%
Arvin Vohra
Libertarian 20 59 0 79 1.0%
Neal Simon
Unaffiliated 138 250 0 388 4.8%
Lih Young (Write In)
Democratic NR NR NR 0 0%
Michael B. Puskar (Write In)
Unaffiliated NR NR NR 0 0%
Edward Shlikas (Write In)
Unaffiliated NR NR NR 0 0%
Other Write-Ins
0 3 0 3 0.0%

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Social Action Committee Interviews: Kent County School Board Candidates

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School board candidate Nivek Johnson with interviewers Charles Taylor, Arlene Lee, and Airlee Johnson

The Kent County Social Action Committee conducted interviews of candidates for three local offices that are up for election this November. The interviews were conducted over three days in October. 

Running for Board of Education seats are incumbents Wendy Costa and Trish McGee and new candidates Nivek Johnson and Francoise Sullivan. There are three seats to be filled. Election to the board is non-partisan, and the ballot does not list the candidates’ party affiliation.

The first question for Board of Education candidates noted that the schools had experienced “very serious violence and racism” during the previous school year. It asked candidates how, if elected, they would create a Kent County Public School system that is “fair, equitable and effective for all students, including students of color.

Nivek Johnson, the first to be interviewed, said that a lot of school systems are facing similar problems. He said he would encourage the County Superintendent to look into restorative justice, an approach that encourages students to resolve conflicts on their own, by bringing them together in small peer groups to talk, ask questions and air grievances. Also, he said, a round table discussion about issues of racism and violence would allow teachers to bring problems to a fair resolution without resorting to punishment. He said he had experienced the positive effects of restorative justice while teaching at St. Peter and Paul’s in Easton.

Francoise Sullivan said that many of the “ugly events” last year were the result of the board’s decision to bring in an outside contractor for school buses. She said she favored starting to talk about racism at an early age, pointing to the Students Talking About Racism (STAR) program at the middle school. She said her own daughter, an elementary school student in the county, had been told by classmates she should only play with “others like her” – “I was appalled,” Sullivan said. 

School board candidate Francoise Sullivan with interviewers Charles Taylor and Arlene Lee

Trish McGee, currently President of the Board of Education, said the board doesn’t have the power a lot of people think it does. The Superintendent and staff make the day-to-day decisions. She endorsed the steps taken last year, including a multicultural committee at Kent County Middle School. “It’s important to communicate and give value to everyone’s story,” she said.

Wendy Costa also endorsed restorative justice. She said it should be used throughout society, beginning in the schools. Also, she said, students need to visit institutions such as the Smithsonian African American Museum in Washington. Seeing different perspectives and having diverse friends can do a lot to defuse racial problems, as well, she said. Black History month should expand its material beyond the accomplishments of Martin Luther King. And students need to read more, especially reading books in common so they share more experiences with one another – she suggested the biography of Frederick Douglass and “The Color of Water” as books that would give students a wider understanding.

The candidates were asked whether they were willing to take part in a workshop on racism and whether they would require school system staff to do so. Johnson, Sullivan, and McGee said they would participate; Johnson described himself as “a huge advocate” for the training and encouraged the superintendent to pursue the idea for staff. Sullivan said it should be done for all staff and teachers, and McGee she would “encourage it in the strongest way” for board members and top staff. It would also be beneficial for students, she said, commending the STAR student group for taking on the issues of racism. “I need to do this for myself,” she said.

Kent County school board President Trish McGee

Costa said she was unfamiliar with the workshop, but that the schools “should do this kind of thing.” She said she had done similar things in other districts she had been involved with, including attending Challenge Day at the schools every year.

Candidates were also asked about ways to improve recruiting of minority teachers and administrators in the county. Johnson noted that Kent County has “a unique makeup” – its small size means that people outside the area aren’t familiar with it. He said that recruiting more teachers of color was something he had always advocated. He suggested sending retired teachers and other stakeholders to colleges outside the area to show how much the county has to offer. He also said that many black students don’t see the benefits of a teaching career, and need to be shown. He said he would work with the county commissioners on economic development as a way to make the county more attractive to new teachers.

Sullivan said there is a nationwide teacher shortage, and that the county should broaden its outreach to historically black colleges. She said that inviting candidates to visit the county, with residents hosting them in their homes – as the National Music Festival does with its performers – would be a promising approach. “We need to set a percentage of what diversity should look like,” she said, adding that the percentage should be increased every five years. Also, she said, it is important to convert new hires into teachers who stay here instead of leaving for jobs elsewhere. She suggested that the county schools partner with Washington College to become a “teacher factory” for the rest of the state.

McGee said the failure to attract teachers of color has been an issue for a long time. She said the county had hired 25 teachers for the current school year, two of whom were black and two Hispanic. She said she had spoken to Superintendent Karen Couch about it on a number of occasions, but the job of recruitment really depends on the human resources staff. “There were more teachers of color when I was in high school,” she said, noting that it’s important for students to have diverse role models. She said, “We need to go beyond the schools” to involve people from the business community and other local stakeholders in the recruitment process. “Kent County is a hard egg to crack for a new person coming in,” she said, and the retention rate of first- and second-year teachers is “not very good.” She also noted that expecting Washington College to fill the teacher shortage might not be realistic – “there were very few people of color when I was there,” she said – and added that teachers hired from the college don’t tend to stay any longer than those hired from other areas.

School board member Wendy Costa and interviewer Ned Southworth

Costa also commented on the national teacher shortage. She said Kent County gets a lot of its teachers from Pennsylvania and Delaware. She said attracting more teachers, including teachers of color, is a question of making the system competitive with others, especially in terms of salaries. Teachers have traditionally not been treated like professionals, she said, giving the example of expecting them to perform lunch and bus duty – jobs that could be done by volunteers or non-teaching staff. If teaching were a more attractive profession in general, more people of color would be involved. As far as partnering with Washington College, it would be “great, but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

The candidates were also asked about ways to involve more students in after-school activities when parents or caregivers are unable to provide transportation to those activities because of work schedules or lack of a car. “I’m a proponent of after-school activities,” said Johnson. He said the board needs to put pressure on the county commissioners to provide more funding for schools. Also, he said, the board needs to look at its own budget to find money for after-school buses. He would work with the school district’s financial department to find funding. “It can be done and it should be done,” he said.

“It’s an issue for a lot of parents,” Sullivan said. “We need to address it on a big scale.” She noted that many families need both parents to work and that it’s the school district’s responsibility to make opportunities available to all its students.

McGee said that after-school transportation was one of the casualties of the schools’ recent budget crunch. While there used to be late buses, there haven’t been any for “a long time,” she said. Given the comparatively high levels of poverty in the county, most families need both parents to work, and they can’t get back to school to bring their children home. Transportation is “a county-wide issue,“ not just a problem with the schools, she said, and there’s no money to make it work.

To Costa, the lack of transportation is one of the biggest problems. One issue is the fact that school hours are “divorced from” parents’ work schedules. “That’s got to change,” she said, with school hours more congruent with work hours. She said the transportation issues also affect academic work, making it difficult for the schools to provide activities such as debate teams or math and science clubs.

School board candidates were also asked whether they would take and encourage teachers and administrators how they would support an expanded volunteer system in the schools; and what are ways for the schools to become innovative while still working within the state’s requirements, such as physical education, recess, and relevant local content such as African American history and culture.

Interviewers included SAC members Paul Tue, Charles Taylor, Airlee Johnson, Sherrie Tilghman, Ned Southworth, Arlene Lee, and Mel Rappelyea.

The interview questions were compiled based on issues raised at a joint meeting of the Social Action Committee and the Kent County branch of the NAACP. “Our questions posed to the candidates were based on the survey of many people at a joint meeting of the NAACP-Kent Branch and the Social Action Committee in May 2018. The members of both groups identified their primary concerns, needs, and passions regarding the quality of life and justice issues currently in Kent County. The Political Action Subcommittee of the SAC then took those responses and formulated the questions posed to the candidates, specific to each of the offices represented.

The final questions – between 9 and 11 per candidate, depending on the office – were drafted by the SAC’s political committee. As might be expected from the groups creating the questions, a number of them focused on racial issues affecting the local community. 

Each candidate was asked the same questions as others for the same office, in separate one-hour sessions. They did not see the questions until they arrived for the interview, at which point they were given a few minutes to look them over. Occasionally the interviewers would ask follow-up questions or request clarification, but in general, the candidates were allowed to take their answers in whatever direction they wanted. As a result, not all candidates gave equally long answers to all the questions.

The Social Action Committee consists of about 100 community members of all ages, who came together in 2017 to address racism in the community. The SAC is comprised of a number of subcommittees, each with a specific focus to actively dismantle racism in the community in areas such as education, jobs/employment, politics, and community social events/observances. The committee meets at Sumner Hall at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. All community members are welcome. For more information, contact Rosemary Ramsey Granillo, Director of the Local Management Board:  Office:  410-810-2673; email:  rramseygranillo@kentgov.org.

Kent County Early Voting Hits New High!

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There were seven paper ballot booths and one electronic voting booth in the voting center at the Kent County Library for Early Voting. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Early Voting in Maryland ended yesterday, and official records indicate that the turnout topped all expectations.

According to Cheemoandia Blake, Kent County Director of Elections, 2,999 county voters, 22.8% of those registered, had cast their ballots as of the close of voting at 8:00 pm on Thursday, Nov. 1.

For comparison, in the 2014 gubernatorial election, 1,969 county voters took part in early voting, for a 15.47% turnout. This year’s total nearly matches that in 2016 — a presidential election, when turnout is almost always higher — when the county saw 3,364 early voters, nearly 26% of those eligible.

Alice and Garnett Demby of Chestertown were the last two voters in Kent County Early Voting at 7:58 pm on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. – Photo by Jane Jewell

As of the close of polls on Tuesday, the early voting totals included 1,249 Democrats, 756 Republicans, and 295 others — including Green, Libertarian, and unaffiliated voters. The total accounts for 20% of registered Democrats, 15.5% of Republicans, and 12.7% of other voters. On the final day of voting, 442 voters appeared at the polls, of whom 242 were Democrats, 146 Republicans, and 54 other parties or unaffiliated. These figures represent party registration only; how they actually voted won’t be known until the complete vote is tabulated after the close of polls Tuesday.

As of the end of September, there were 13,139 voters registered in the county. The total does not include new voters who registered during early voting, although that number is not expected to be large. Under Maryland law, 17-year-olds are allowed to register and vote in early voting, as long as their 18th birthday occurs before Election Day, Nov. 6.

New voters needed to register by Nov. 1 to vote on Election Day. A proposed amendment for Maryland’s state constitution on this year’s ballot would allow voters to register and vote on Election Day in future elections.

Early Voting poll workers finish up for the day.  

Early voting was reportedly heavy throughout Maryland, with more than twice the number who cast early ballots in the 2014 gubernatorial election having voted by Thursday, according to an article in the Baltimore Sun. National reports indicate a similarly large turnout in other states.

Tameka Johnson, Kent County Elections Technician stands by the daily totals of posted on the wall in the library. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Poll worker Allen Christy was in charge of the scanner, helping voters scan their ballot and troubleshooting any problems. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Chief Election Judge Sam Johnston with the official locked folder. – Photo by Jane Jewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Early Voting Underway; Runs Through Thursday, Nov. 1

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A forest of signs at the entrance to the parking lot outside the Kent County Library in Chestertown – site for Early Voting – Photo by Peter Heck

Early voting opened in Maryland on Thursday, Oct. 25.  Right from the first hour, polling booths across Maryland had long lines and high turnouts.  State officials reported that 170,00 Marylanders voted in the first two days, Thursday and Friday, Oct 25 & 26. This was more than double for the first day of early voting in fall 2014, the last mid-term election.

On hand to keep everything running smoothly – (L-R) Director of Elections Cheemoandia Blake, Elections Board Vice President, Lisa Thompson, County Tech Tameka Johnson – Photo by Jane Jewell

Thursday, Nov 1, is the last day for registering and voting.  You can register and vote right at the same time.  Remember that 18-year-olds may also register and vote for their first national and state elections.  17-year-olds who will turn 18 before Nov 6, may also register and vote during the early voting period. On election day, Tuesday, Nov 1, only those voters who are already registered may vote.

In Kent County, a steady stream of voters showed up at the Kent County Library’s Chestertown branch, the only early voting site in the county.

At some points, lines of voters stretched from the door of the library’s meeting room to the middle of the library’s main room, almost to the circulation desk. According to Cheemoandia Blake, the county’s director of elections, 216 voters had cast ballots as of 1:20 on Thursday – one of them a provisional ballot.  Voting went smoothly with the line moving quickly.

Of these 216 voters in the first three hours of the first day of early voting, about 52 percent were registered Democrats, about 35 percent Republicans and 11 percent unaffiliated. Two voters cast provisional ballots. Two voters—both unaffiliated — also took advantage of the opportunity to register to vote during early voting. Officials said they expected more people to register and vote during the remainder of the early voting period.

Waiting to vote! (Among others are Sam Scalzo, Sydney , Susan Percival, Bron Percival, Mabel Mumford, and Court Clerk incumbent and candidate Mark Mumford on right in hat.) – Photo by Jane Jewell

The library will be open for early voting every day through Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Saturday and Sunday. Blake said Sunday is traditionally the quietest day during early voting. Last election in 2016, only 9 votes were cast in the county on Sunday.  This year, over 200 people voted on Sunday.  By 5:00 pm Monday, Oct. 29, approximately 14% of all the registered voters in Kent County, that’s 1,796 people, had cast their votes.

As of the end of September 2018, there were a little over 13,000 registered voters in Kent County.  Of these, just over  6,000 are Democrats and about 4, 800 are Republicans.  In addition, a little over 2,000 Kent Countians registered as Unaffiliated.  About 200 others are registered as Green Party, Libertarians, or Other.  The exact totals are in the chart below.  These numbers do not include those registered during October and Early Voting days.

Voters are asked to give their name, address and the month and day of their birthday to poll workers who then check registration and hand out the ballots. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Several candidates for office were seen among those voting – including Delegate Jay Jacobs, Commissioner Billy Short, and Clerk of the Court Mark Mumford. Jacobs said he had been tracking other counties in the 36th District, which he represents in the General Assembly, and that voting was heavy in all of them. He said he had observed a lot of enthusiasm among voters while campaigning.

The ballot this year is a long one, filling both sides of the sheet. Offices being contested are Governor of Maryland, state Senator, and Delegates to the General Assembly, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and county offices including county commissioner, State’s Attorney, Sheriff, Clerk of the Court, and members of the Board of Education. There are also two constitutional amendments on the ballot, one requiring funds raised by gambling to be used solely for education and the other allowing new voters to register on Election Day. Marylanders can now register and vote during the Early Voting period but can’t register on Election Day itself.

Jay Jacobs, candidate and current incumbent for District 36 of the Maryland General Assembly, and his wife Dawn Jacobs hold up the League of Women Voters Guide – Photo by Jane Jewell

Individual paper ballot voting booths. – Photo by Peter Heck

Maryland has both electronic voting and paper ballots – voters’ choice. For early voting, there are seven paper ballot booths plus one electronic voting booth.

The paper ballots are fed into an optical scanner which digitally records the votes on a computer.  Sometimes the scanner can’t read a ballot and the ballot is rejected.  One of the poll workers told us that this had happened two times Thursday morning and it happened again while we were there.  An election judge checks to see what caused the problem.  The problem is usually easily spotted and corrected.  The “box”–it’s actually an “oval”–is generally not correctly or completely filled in. If necessary, the voter completes and scans another ballot.  Rejected ballots are securely set aside as the number of ballots received by the polling booth must match the number of ballots cast plus the number of unused ballots.

Elections Chief Judge Larry Wilson – Photo by Jane Jewell

An important tip to avoid having the scanner reject your ballot is to completely darken the oblong shape next to the candidate’s name.  But do not go over the line and mark the space outside the magic oval!  Poll workers said that the scanner also tends to reject ballots where the voter has put a check or an X in the oval instead of filling it in.  This scanner system works much the same as many of the standard school tests where you also need to carefully completely fill in the space.  Yes, we have to color carefully on our ballots. What we learned in kindergarten is still relevant.

After scanning,  the paper ballot goes into a secured box with all the other original paper ballots to serve as a check and a paper audit trail.

Bob Ingersoll has voted! He’s smiling because he filled in the “ovals” correctly and the scanner has accepted his ballot.

Sample ballots are available at the library, along with a League of Women Voters’ guide to candidates.

  Kent County Voter Statistics – from Maryland State Board of Elections Website  Page with Registrations by County as of Sept is here.

  •     13,139 Registered Voters as of Sept 30, 2018
    •     6,009 Democrats
    •     4,802 Republicans
    •     2,094 Unaffiliated (often referred to as “Independent”)
    •     30 Green Party
    •     80 Libertarian Party
    •     102 Other

This article will be updated with more Early Voting information as available.

See you at the polls!

Maryland Voters to Decide on Two Statewide Ballot Questions

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Commercial gaming and voter registration may not be hot topics in the Maryland gubernatorial election, but voters will have a say in their future.

Across the state, voters will have the opportunity to decide on two ballot questions — both amendments to the Maryland Constitution — in the general election.

One amendment would require the governor to budget commercial gaming revenues for supplemental public education funding, and the other would allow same-day voter registration on Election Day.

The first question specifies that, starting in 2020, the education funding from gaming revenues must be supplemental, and cannot be used as a substitute for other schools funding that is already required by law.

If the constitutional amendment is approved, the governor must allocate at least $125 million in fiscal year 2020, $250 million in fiscal year 2021, and $375 million in fiscal year 2022.

The amendment states that the governor identify where the supplemental funding be used within certain parameters, including early childhood education programs, career and technical education programs and school construction and renovations.

The second question would amend the state constitution to allow qualified individuals to register and vote on the same day.

Current law allows same-day registration and voting during the early voting period, the second Thursday before the election through the Thursday before the election. This amendment would expand that to include Election Day, according to the Board of Elections.

Ballot questions have a history of being passed in Maryland. According to the Board of Elections, about 90 percent of ballot questions have been approved since the turn of the century, with an average of about three questions per ballot in midterm years.

Maryland’s local jurisdictions can also proffer their own local ballot questions.

A Conversation with Spy Columnist David Montgomery and 1st District Candidate Andy Harris

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More than a few Spy readers thought it was a bit odd last week to have David Montgomery, our most politically conservative columnist, interview Democrat Jesse Colvin, who is running against Congressman Andy Harris this November. And yet many ultimately found this format a refreshing change from the more typical and sound bite-driven public forums or mainstream media interviews.

We took that as encouragement to continue our somewhat counter-intuitive approach by having David also interview Dr. Harris as well. And while it is true that their worldviews may be more aligned than with Jesse Colvin’s, Spy readers may find it surprising that Montgomery and Harris are not in agreement on many issues, including immigration and economic tariffs. Indeed, David has withheld his endorsement until he completed these interviews with both. He plans to share his final decision this week in his regular Spy column.

Once again, we are grateful to the Avalon Foundation’s MCTV for their help in producing this Spy conversation.

This video is approximately one hour in length 

The League of Women Voters Host Forum for Congressional District One Candidates

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On Sunday October 21 candidates for United States House of Representatives, (MD District 1),  Andy Harris (Republican), Jesse Colvin (Democrat), and Jenica Martin (Libertarian) will participate in what may be the only scheduled forum for this race. It will be held at the Talbot County Free Library at 100 W. Dover St., Easton, at 2:00 p.m.

Candidates will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions they have received in advance from the League of Women Voters. Audience members may submit questions to be answered by the candidates, and each candidate will also present closing remarks.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization dedicated to promoting informed and active participation in government; it does not support or oppose any candidates for office or political parties.  In accordance with the League’s 501-c-3 status and Federal election laws, no demonstrations will be allowed in the event venue. No clothing or signs indicating support for or against a candidate will be permitted. Forums may not be recorded or filmed, unless with written agreement from the League of Women Voters.

For more information please contact: Nancy Smith at nismith@verizon.net.

Rally: Raise Your Voice and Vote!

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The public is invited to attend a Rally to celebrate the right to vote, share some great music, and hear from Democratic candidates.  The Rally will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, October 13, at the Bethel AME Church, 237 N. College Ave., Chestertown, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.  Light refreshments will be served.  Jesse Colvin, candidate for U.S. Congress, will attend, as will many other candidates running for State and County offices.  Voter registration will be available.

The Rally is sponsored by Bethel AME Church, Boardly Chapel AME Church, Democratic Club of Kent County, Holy Trinity AME Church, Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible of Maryland, Kent County Democratic Central Committee, Mt. Olive AME Church, and the NAACP, Kent Branch.

Andy Harris Announces Justice Department Grant to Combat Sex Offenders in Maryland

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The U.S. Department of Justice issued a grant to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in Baltimore, MD for $231,202 to support programs under the national sex offender registration system, called the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Sex offender registration is a system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community. The registration provides important information about convicted sex offenders to local and federal authorities and the public, such as offender’s name, current location and past offenses.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services will use the grant to hire staff and purchase equipment.

Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) made the following statement regarding the grant award:

“As a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I am pleased to announce this Justice Department grant to combat sex offenders in Maryland. We need to provide law enforcement with the resources to keep our families and communities safe from convicted sex offenders. I am proud to help local law enforcement provide information to families in Maryland that will help keep children safe.”

For press inquiries, please contact Congressman Harris’ Washington, DC office at 202-225-5311, or contact Julia Nista at Julia.Nista@mail.house.gov.