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Conflict between early voting & late Maryland fire chief’s visitation

Bad feelings over campaign signs at La Plata firehouse

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It was getting a little ugly yesterday (Thursday) at Maryland’s La Plata Volunteer Fire Department as the department was preparing for the visitation following the death of its former chief and president, Gary Echols. The firehouse is also a polling place, used for early voting. Firefighters wanted election signs to be moved from in front of the firehouse a little early on the final day of early voting in Maryland. In the end, it was resolved, but not before it became a controversy that included news coverage.

Bruce Leshan, WUSA9:

“We just asked the signs be removed directly in front of the firehouse one-and-a-half hours early,” said Matt Gilroy, President of the La Plata Volunteer Fire Department.

State Senate candidate Arthur Ellis resisted, worried that pulling back his signs, and closing a street next to the firehouse, could scare off some of his voters.

“If we limit parking, if we limit access to the firehouse, if we limit access to the building, that that is a serious voter suppression issue,” said Ellis.

Tracy Dickerson, the elections director for Charles County, said legally, the early voting has to continue until 8 p.m. But she says the whole controversy is overblown. That the service shouldn’t interfere with the voting, and the voting shouldn’t interfere with the service.

And long before the deadline, Ellis ended up pulling out his signs.

Read entire story

On a personal note, my condolences to the Echols family and all of his friends in Southern Maryland. Chief Echols showed me great kindness in some of the earliest days of my broadcasting career when I worked as a disc jockey in La Plata beginning in 1973 at WSMD AM-FM.

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