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Long Lines Greet Some Essex-Area Voters

Many voters at Chesapeake High School waited an hour or more.

Ariel Robinson nearly missed out on her first presidential election.

"I didn't think it would really make a difference whether or not I vote, to be honest," she said.

After some prodding and "some choice words" from her mother, the 21-year-old voted Tuesday afternoon at Hawthorne Elementary School.

Beside the presidential and legislative races, Maryland's ballot includes a host of other issues, including amendments to the state constitution and referendums on same-sex marriage, in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants and an expansion of legalized gambling.

Thanks to voters new and old, turnout was brisk across the Essex-Middle River area. An election judge at Hawthorne said turnout was roughly similar to 2008, which saw high turnout across the country. Around noon, wait times at Hawthorne shortened, and voters streamed in and out.

That wasn't the case across town at Chesapeake High School, where cars jam-packed the parking lot and dozens wrapped around the school lobby from the cafeteria where voting was taking place.

Election officials had said that between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. would be the least busy times at the polls—those waiting in line at Chesapeake High early Tuesday afternoon may have disagreed. There, voters told Patch they waited as as long as 1.5 hours to cast their ballots.

Mark Weir—who proudly said he hasn't missed an election since he turned 18—said he's never seen lines like those at Chesapeake in more than 36 years of voting.

"There was a couple people in line that we were able to shoot the breeze and talk about everything other than the election," he said.

Weir said he voted for expanded gambling, the Maryland Dream Act and same-sex marriage.

"I have been raised a Catholic and I believe in a man and woman, but I don't think I should force my views on somebody else either, so I think they should have the opportunity to (marry) as well," Weir said.

Linda Butzner, who described herself as a supporter of candidate Mitt Romney, said she was "honored to stand in line" at Chesapeake. She said she voted for expanded gambling, but against same-sex marriage.

"I have nothing against gay people," she said. "I just don't think they should be entitled to the same rights [to marry.]"

Maureen Gately, who declined to discuss how she voted, spent her time in line catching up on email.

"I was OK with [the wait]," she said. "I'm glad a lot of people came out. It's a good sign."

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