Friday, May 13, 2016

Maryland Decertifies Baltimore Election Results for Polling Process Irregularities

Maryland State Elections officials have ordered that the results of Baltimore’s recent City elections be decertified following criticism from watchdogs and candidates who say the polling process was flawed.

State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said the number of ballots cast in the April 26 Primary was hundreds more than the number of voters who checked in at polling places.

The state also identified 80 provisional ballots that hadn’t been considered. “It’s important every ballot is counted,” said Lamone.

Lamone said she suspects that discrepancy in votes is a result of Election Judges prematurely scanning provisional ballots, which are available to people who show up at precincts and whose names do not appear on registered voting lists.

Next week, officials will conduct a precinct-by-precinct review of documents to find out if that was the case, but they will not recount votes. Nikki Charlson, Lamone’s Deputy, says that provisional ballots that should not have been counted cannot be removed from vote totals, meaning illegal votes could stand.

Under Maryland’s new paper-based voting system, provisional ballots can be sent through the same scanner as other ballots. Because people casting those ballots are not found on voter rolls, they would not be counted as having checked in at a polling place.

Armstead B.C. Jones, Director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections, accused the State of bungling the rollout of new machines and failing to adequately prepare Local officials running the elections. He said confusion over provisional ballots was fueled by constant changes in procedures mandated by the State, including after Election Judges were trained.

Election watchdogs had cited numerous problems with voting in the City on April 26, including some polling stations opening late, Campaign Staffers working as Election Judges, and shortages of ballots and ballpoint pens at some centers.

“There was no integrity in the whole election process,” said J. Wyndal Gordon, a Baltimore lawyer who says he is not affiliated with any candidate. “I’m glad the state government is investigating these matters a little closer so we can have a real election where we can have a true victor and not have the specter linger that the presumed winner wasn’t the actual winner.”

It doesn’t appear likely that the investigation will change the results of Baltimore’s Democratic Mayoral Primary, where Senate Majority Leader Catherine Pugh finished more than 2,000 votes ahead of Sheila Dixon, a former Mayor of the City.

Statewide election results in the U.S. Senate and Presidential Primary cannot be certified until the problems in Baltimore are resolved.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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