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Candidates await results of provisional ballots

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Posted at 6:06 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 18:12:57-04

Supporters for both State Senator Catherine Pugh and former Baltimore City Mayor Sheila Dixon were at the City Board of Elections Wednesday closely watching as the provisional ballots from the primary were counted.

Unofficial results following Election Day last Tuesday showed that Pugh was ahead of Dixon by 3,020 votes. Baltimore City Board of Elections Director Armstead Jones said his office will be sifting through around 7,600 provisional ballots.

“They're broken down into several groups ones that will be accepted in full, those that will be accepted partially, and then there will be those that will be rejected," Jones said.

As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dixon gained an additional 995 votes, and Pugh added 675 out of 2,510 ballots cast. Jones did not specify how many ballots of the approximately 7,600 will count and how many were recommended for rejection. He added that his office did not have plans to count any votes Thursday and instead will work late Wednesday to finish tallying provisional and absentee ballots. They expect to finish counting any remaining absentee ballots on Friday and certify the election the same day.

Voters were given a provisional ballot if there were questions surrounding their eligibility to cast a vote.

"If you go in and they can't find your name on the poll book or if you're in the wrong precinct and you don't want to go to your precinct, the judge will extend to you a provisional ballot," said Jones.

Dixon supporters expressed concerns about which votes get rejected. 

"I want to get the count and I want to make sure that any of the counts that are being challenged we see what the issues are," said former mayor and democratic candidate Sheila Dixon.

Jones said a number of rejected ballots were from independents or unaffiliated voters not permitted to vote in Maryland's closed primary election, which contributed to the high number of provisional ballots this year.

"I think it's because a lot of people wanted the opportunity to vote. [There's a] very interesting election on the national level and here with the mayoral race," Jones said.

Pugh supporters said they were confident the results from the provisional ballots would not change the outcome of the election.

"This is not really close enough. We don't think that there's any realistic possibility that the result will change but it's always a good idea to observe the process when the other side is doing the same," said Joseph Sandler, legal counsel for Pugh for Mayor campaign.

Regardless of Wednesday's outcome, Dixon said she's not giving up until every single vote that can count will count.

"I want to see the breakdown of precincts, that's so important. Particularly, the eight precincts that were missing for 24 hours and then showed up. We don't know what happened, what those numbers look like. Five of those precincts were in very strong areas for me. You know, there were a lot of issues," Dixon said.

Several activists and community leaders are calling for an independent investigation of Tuesday's election process after they say they've received more than two dozen complaints of voter irregularities. They plan to hold a town hall Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at the Sharon Baptist Church located at 1373 N. Stricker Street where they will formally document any voter complaints.

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