Black America Votes: Baltimore Turns into A Shining Instance Of Voter Engagement Round The Nation




Written by Donna M. Owens

Shortly after the polls opened on Election Day in Baltimore, Maryland, the music started: as folks stood in line to vote, jams by Frankie Beverly and Maze, classics from Motown and hits by Michael Jackson wafted by means of the chilly morning air. 

Certainly, the ambiance was festive. A meals truck provided free cupcakes and bottled water. A number of volunteers doled out masks, hand sanitizer and popcorn. A Black Lives Matter banner flapped within the wind, as did dozens of candidate indicators for native and nationwide races. 

This specific scene performed out at Edmondson Excessive Faculty, certainly one of two-dozen consolidated “vote facilities” on this predominantly African American metropolis of 602,000 residents. Strains had been lengthy as voters made a strong displaying, a part of a wave of report voting nationwide. 

In actual fact, more than 2.2 million Marylanders did early voting or mail-in voting, in accordance with Board of Election figures. “We had report turnout with early voting,” mentioned Prince George’s County Government, Angela Alsobrooks, who leads one of many richest Black subdivisions in America. 

“Fortunately, folks listened to recommendation and voted early and safely. That participation was actually essential, as a result of we had been one of many jurisdictions the place the Black and Brown neighborhood was hit hardest by COVID. Nonetheless, our voter participation was sturdy.”


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Maryland, traditionally a closely Democratic “blue” state, at the moment has Larry Hogan, a Republican governor and each suburban and rural communities that skew conservative and “pink.” In some ways, it’s a microcosm of America and cities akin to Baltimore supply a snapshot of Black America. 

Moreover the presidential election, Baltimore voters chosen a brand new Mayor in Brandon Scott. And Maryland’s seventh District Congressional seat, as soon as held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, was gained by a landslide with 72 p.c of the vote after incumbent Rep. Kweisi Mfume beat Kimberly Klacik. Mfume is a a nationally identified Democrat who beforehand held the seat earlier than turning into president/CEO of the NAACP whereas Klacik is a Black Republican who’s gotten a lift of assist from Trump and raised hundreds of thousands after her marketing campaign video went viral.

“I at all times vote and that is the largest election of my time,” mentioned Dante Jones, a enterprise proprietor. “I voted as a result of it’s time for a change.”

Mayor-elect Brandon Scott

Mayor-elect Brandon Scott

Amy Davis/Baltimore Solar/Tribune Information Service through Getty Photographs)

Particularly, Jones was backing the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket over incumbent President Donald Trump and vice chairman Mike Pence.  He’s dissatisfied in the best way Trump has dealt with all the pieces from overseas coverage to race relations. “It’s time for Trump and his rhetoric to go,” Jones mentioned. “He spews ignorance. Our worldwide relationships are horrible. It’s 2020 and we’re nonetheless coping with the identical craziness round race, issues that date again to the King period. It’s a disgrace.”

Audrey McMillan voted by mail, which she says was “easy,” however was on the polling web site at hand out snacks to voters as they waited. Whereas politely declining to disclose precisely whom she voted for, there have been hints that it wasn’t the present occupant of the White Home.

“Immigration is an enormous problem for me,” mentioned McMillan. “I don’t perceive how as a nation we are able to separate youngsters from their dad and mom. Anybody who can try this with no compunction, isn’t match for workplace.”

McMillan additionally believes that the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to greater than 232,000 deaths, has been poorly dealt with. “You possibly can’t inform me solely the sturdy survive. You possibly can’t inform me you’ve accomplished an excellent job when all these persons are dying.” 

Irvin Sutton voted early, requesting a poll by mail and dropping it off in an official dropbox. The married father of three didn’t mince phrases about Trump. “I can not cope with the nut within the White Home,” he mentioned. “From day one, he was speaking about grabbing girls by the p–y. We’d like sure requirements. It’s time for him to go.” 

But Dustin Corridor indicated he would seemingly vote for Trump. He believes the forty fifth president has dealt with the economic system nicely, notably points akin to job creation. “It’s not about Democrats or Republicans,” he mentioned. 

Darren McDonald Jr., 41, was excited to vote for the Biden/ Harris ticket as a result of he favored the California Senator early within the Democratic major course of. “Harris was my first selection, and I used to be heartbroken when she initially stepped out of the race.”

McDonald is anxious to see a Democrat within the White Home once more. “I’ve not been a fan of Trump’s insurance policies on well being care, the surroundings, and immigration. And it bothers me that he’s pleasant with overseas dictators like Putin.” 

Eleanora “Sandy” Franklin-Forbes had already voted, however she was readily available as a volunteer with the local NAACP, doing voter safety. So was Neatrice Holmes, a neighborhood volunteer with the advocacy group, Color of Change. The women stayed busy, scouring the group to make sure that elders particularly got seats or moved to the entrance. And whereas there have been just a few cops readily available, the ladies had been additionally on alert for potential voter intimidation. 

Election Day in Baltimore

Election Day in Baltimore

Photograph by J. Countess/Getty Photographs

Certainly, there’ve been rumblings about what might occur relying upon the outcomes. “This democracy is fragile and if we’re not cautious it would collapse,” mentioned Karsonya Smart Whitehead, Ph.D., affiliate professor of African and African American Research at Loyola College Maryland. Dr. Kaye, who hosts a well-liked native discuss present on WEAA-FM, ticked off a litany of challenges going through the U.S., from racism to Covid-19 to sharply partisan political divisions. 

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“I imagine the nation is in peril, however not 1861 peril as we had been earlier than the Civil Struggle when there have been 4 million slaves,” she mentioned. “South Carolina was the primary to secede again then. This notion of turning into your personal nation occurred then. Right now, states aren’t going to secede. However what I do suppose is that there shall be civil unrest and protests within the streets.” 

Ranya Daniel, 19, is a Junior finding out structure and building administration at Morgan State College. This was her first presidential election.

“I’m excited,” she instructed “I think about this step one in me making a constructive change in my neighborhood. My vote counts. It’s about civil rights, it’s about human rights and making this nation one of the best it may be.” 

(Photograph by J. Countess/Getty Photographs)