Claims of voting irregularities in city primary

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 09:22:00-04

Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE), a group of Baltimore City activists, voters, and community leaders, are calling for an independent investigation into reports of voting irregularities in last Tuesday’s primary election.

They claim to have received multiple reports of voters being turned away or given the wrong ballot, and they want Governor Larry Hogan to launch an investigation before the election is certified.

Hassan Giordano, founder of ValueMyVote, said in the past two days, 27 voters have come forward claiming irregularities in last week's election process. He believes the problem could be more widespread.

“Voters in the 6th district were given 5th district ballots and vice-versa. You had a campaign worker who was actually allowed to work the scanner machine all day because they thought she was an election judge when she was never hired or certified from the Board of Elections, and the list goes on and on,” said Giordano.

The list also includes election results that went missing for eight precincts but were later found and counted. He added that polling locations opening thirty minutes to ninety minutes late are another problem.

A judge ordered four to stay open an hour past the 8 p.m. cut-off, but he said there were eight others not given the extra time. He's concerned delays and confusion over polling locations frustrated people into not voting at all.

“We believe the cumulative effect and the totality of all these actions essentially leads to voter suppression and we believe the results need to be tossed out. A new election needs to be had, or an investigation needs to provide the answers that were not given by the Board of Elections,” Giordano said.

Baltimore City Board of Elections director Armstead Jones said he wasn't aware of the claim that a Sheila Dixon campaign worker was allowed to scan in ballots. He also said it's challenging for his office to ensure polls open on time.

“We use 206 buildings around the City. We don't have keys to those buildings, we depend on the owners to open them in a timely manner so that we can gain access by 5:30 a.m. or quarter to 6 for the judges to enter,” Jones said.

He said that election judges are adequately trained and are required to take a three-hour course.

The City also had a number of judges drop out a week before the election but replacements were hired and trained the night before.

“Election judges are hard to get," Jones said. "It's hard to get good and competent people to serve in those positions, so hundreds of judges dropping out a week or so before the elections has a great effect on the process."

He has no concerns about the validity of the election, and has no plans to step down.

“All votes count. We make every effort in this office and statewide to make sure that all citizens who took the opportunity to vote, their vote counts for Election Day,” said Jones.

“The election is not over yet, it has not been certified,” said Anthony Jones, Sheila Dixon’s campaign manager.  “It's obviously been a tedious process that we are watching very closely.”

The Baltimore NAACP president Tess Hill-Aston also released a statement that said, in part, "We call on the Administrator and board members of the Baltimore City Board of Elections to operate in an open and transparent manner as they move toward the final tally of votes in the very important races for the United States Senate, Mayor and for the City Council in Baltimore."

VOICE will be holding a town hall Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Sharon Baptist Church located at 1373 N. Stricker Street where they will be officially documenting any issues voters had in this year's election. They plan to present their findings to Governor Larry Hogan and to possibly file a lawsuit.

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