Cumberland Times-News

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June 24, 2014

'People fought and died and went to war'

Many Cumberland residents were passionate about their desire to vote on Tuesday.

CUMBERLAND — While some polling places reported low voter turnout for the primary election on Tuesday, foot traffic at the Allegany County Multi-Purpose Building in Potomac Park was steady despite an unexpected technical difficulty.

The trouble didn't stem from voting machines, however.

"The railroad crossing (gates) are stuck and have been down," said Mary Beth Dicken, a chief judge for the event. An afternoon storm likely caused the problem, she said. "Either the lightning or ... the pressure from the rain could have thrown it off."

Although election officials reported the issue to the railroad, the safety gates remained lowered for much of the afternoon, she said.

Voters entered the building and talked of having to zigzag around and between the railroad gates to cross the track while red stop lights flashed, Dicken said.

"The voters are coming in and taking their chance with the train," she said."They're like the mail service. They'll find a way to get here."

At the Plummers & Steam Fitters Local 489 Training Center on Park Street in Cumberland, folks were also passionate about their desire to vote.

"I think it's important to vote," Cumberland resident Clarence Hawkins said and talked of his African American heritage. "At one time we didn't have the freedom to vote."

His wife, Bessie -- the couple have been married since 1961 -- said the chance to vote is a blessing.

"I think voting is a God-given privilege," she said.

Cumberland resident Pam Griffith said it's important for the latest generation of voters to show up at the polls.

"I wanted to voice my opinion," said Griffith. "I hope the young people (vote) because this is their future."

Karly Hipsley agreed. Like other 18-year-olds at the polls, she was at Local 489 to vote for the first time.

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