Here in the smallest of Maryland's 1,511 election precincts, all the Democratic voters who cast their ballots in Charlie Daum's kitchen yesterday grumbled about the choice and most of them walked away vowing to support a Republican in November.
"I'd rather vote Republican," said Tommy Tyler, a registered Democrat from inside the polling booth. "Can I vote Republican, Ed?" he asked election judge Edward Willey.
Emerging from behind the curtain, Tyler, a lumber company supervisor, announced with disgust, "I voted for Lyndon LaRouche and I don't know who the hell he is."?
Come November, he said, he will probably vote for Ronald Reagan, whom he doesn't like either.
Located in a conservative corner of the Eastern Shore, Henry's Cross roads is a long way from the urban and suburban areas that produced most of the votes in yesterday's Maryland primary. But their lack of enthusiasm, the town's voters seemed to sound a theme for the whole state.
The only reason they were voting several said, was out of the civic duty. Those who voted for Jimmy Carter -- who carried the town in the general election four years ago -- considered him the lesser of two evils.
"I wasted my vote," said Thomas Powell Horsman, 84, a retired boat builder. "I don't see anything we've got and I don't see anything we're gonna get."
Of Reagan, Horsman said, "That's the only thing I see that there is left, but I wouldn't bet on him. The minute he gets in there, he'll get hooked up with those big corporations. I don't see no choice."
"I don't think anything 'bout none of 'em," explained Carsten Johannsen, 70, a retired farmer who said he would cast a presidential vote in November -- for Reagan.
This is farm country, dominated by corn and wheat and soybeans. The rapidly rising cost of seed and feed and fuel for tractors has swelled voter discontent.
"My income dropped 75 percent under the Carter administration," said Bill Murphy. "The man's basically a good man, a nice man and all, but financially, he's no good for farmers, that's my opinion."
"It's just exactly like it was in Hoover's time," said Horsman.
Voter participation is traditionally high here -- 43 of 51 registered voted the last time around. Reflecting voter discontent with the candidates, perhaps, the pace seemed slower yesterday.
"The monotony is what we get paid for," said Marion Murphy, a Republican election judge.
There are no schools or fire halls to vote in at Henry's Crossroads, so the four election judges (two from each party) have had to make do with what there is. In the last election, they conducted the polling in the workshop behind Virginia Tyler's house, a former general store at the Crossroads, which itself in years past had served as a voting place. In other years, voters cast their ballots in a private garage. "We've had some real doozies," said Murphy. "We've been in an old boathouse with holes in the floor and boats floating overhead. We are in luxury this time."
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 33 to 14 in this district, of which Henry's Crossroads is the hub. The intersection, once owned by John Henry, Maryland's governor in 1798 and 1799, consists now of an abandoned church and houses, including the former general store and one belonging to Charlie Daum, a Baltimore builder who comes here on weekends.
By the 8 p.m. closing time, 24 citizens -- 17 Democrats and 7 Republicans -- had cast their votes at Daum's house with its "no electioneering" and "no hunting" signs posted out front. When the votes were counted, Republicans had voted six for Reagan, one for George Bush. The 17 Democrats gave Carter a bare majority of nine to three for Kennedy, one each for LaRouche, California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. and "uncommitted," while two persons skipped over the presidential primary contest to vote for lesser office seekers.
As election day drew to a close here, the judges returned Charlie Daum's kitchen to its intended use. It was dinnertime.
"Best way to end the day is with a beef stew and homemade bread," said election judge Willey, digging in and promising to vote right after supper, "if I can get up from the table."