Speaking at the mayor’s press conference on Monday, Natasha Murphy, deputy director of advocacy for Black Girls Vote Inc., encourages Baltimore residents to vote during the July 19 primary election. Image via Charm TV Baltimore/Facebook.

Baltimore, Maryland and the rest of the country are at a “critical crossroad,” Mayor Brandon Scott said Monday during a press conference in which he implored Balimoreans to vote in the state’s July 19 primary election.

“Grab your friends, your loved ones – or as the immortal Elijah Cummings would say ‘la di da di and everybody’ – and take them to the polls,” Scott said. “We are counting on everyone in Baltimore to show up and make your voice heard.”

Voters have until Tuesday, July 28 – tomorrow – to register to vote or change their party affiliation. Other important dates and information for the primary election can be found here or by visiting boe.baltimorecity.gov.

Baltimore City is still short about 800 to 1,000 election judges, according to Armstead Jones, election director for the Baltimore City Board of Elections.

“It’s been very difficult this time trying to recruit, not only here in Baltimore City but around the state,” Jones said. “With the pandemic still being out there, people are a little leery. Most of the judges that serve in Baltimore City were 60 and over retired people who would work. We found that a lot of those persons are not coming into training to work.”

Baltimoreans who are interested in serving as an election judge can call the elections board at 410-396-5550 or sign up here.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who represents Maryland, said he is counting on young people to vote.

“This is your future,” he said. “You can make a difference in this election. We need you to be engaged in our political system.”

Aeirss E. Prince, founder of the nonpartisan nonprofit Baltimore City Youth Voter Registration Committee, said her organization has registered more than 200 youth voters over the past two years.

“While these numbers are not big, the number of youth voters that we have been able to educate about the political process is important,” she said.

The committee has also hosted conversations over social media between youth voters and elected officials, including Scott and Baltimore City Council members Phylicia Porter (District 10) and Eric Costello (District 11).

Voting is important “now more than ever in the United States,” Prince said, pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Friday that overturned federal abortion protections that had been established in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade.

“Voting is one of the biggest civic responsibilities that we have as citizens as it determines who represents us on all levels of government,” she said.

Natasha Murphy, deputy director of advocacy for the nonpartisan nonprofit Black Girls Vote Inc., said the representatives whom residents elect will shape the course of several issues, including social justice, education, public safety and “the future of our democracy.”

Young people should be politically engaged at the local, state and federal levels, Prince said.

“Local and state governments must be the driving forces behind change,” she said. “Policies and change start from the ground up in your communities and neighborhoods. Young adults, we have the power to change the outcome of elections by casting our votes for the officials and representatives that we feel most effectively represent us and advocate us in local government. This is why our presence at the polls is vital.”

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...