Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sheila Dixon Questions Primary Election Results in Baltimore
5:25 PM EDT May 03, 2016

BALTIMORE —Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is once again calling into question results from last week's primary election, repeating many claims she has already made and which have been addressed.

Sheila Dixon's mayoral campaign officials tell 11 News they're not ready to admit defeat until they see the final primary election numbers, which are expected to be released Friday.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh and Alan Walden are the winners in the Democratic and Republican primaries in the race to be Baltimore's next mayor.

On primary election night, Dixon said, "I want to congratulate Sen. Catherine Pugh." She added, "It wasn't God's will" that she would win.

Now a full week after the primary election, Dixon continues to complain about the vote count. Speaking Tuesday morning on WBAL NewsRadio 1090 AM, Dixon said she never conceded.

"And the reason is, first of all, that night we weren't even clear on what the count was because of eight missing precincts that we're still trying to get those numbers for," Dixon said.

That is not true, according to the state Board of Elections, which said voting data from all eight precincts were locked in secure environments on primary election night. Thumb drives from five of the precincts were locked and sealed inside tamper-proof voting units. Two others were locked in the elections warehouse overnight.

On the day after the election, officials went back to the source data for the eighth precinct: the paper ballots.

So on Wednesday, officials said, results from all eight locations had been processed.

"I conferred with both mayoral candidates on Wednesday in reference to those votes and personally sent them an email with those votes on it," said Armstead Jones, director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections.

State officials also said those ballots were counted and added to the statewide vote total last week.

"By our calculation, right now, has me behind 2,417 votes. So we would like the official count," Dixon said.

Dixon's calculation is off. According to the state elections website, which is continually updated with the tally, Pugh is ahead by 3,019 votes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Also, there is no official count until the election results are certified, which will take place Friday after provisional ballots and a second round of absentee ballots are counted.

Mayor - Baltimore City - Dem Primary
April 27, 2016 - 05:08PM ET

Maryland - 294 of 296 Precincts Reporting - 99%
Name Party Votes Vote %
Pugh, Catherine Dem  45,360 37%
Dixon, Sheila Dem  42,484 34%
Embry, Elizabeth Dem 14,715 12%
Warnock, David Dem 10,094 8%
Stokes, Carl  Dem 4,245 3%
Mckesson, DeRay Dem 3,077 2%
Mosby, Nick Dem 1,755 1%
Young, Calvin Dem  577 0%
Gutierrez, Patrick Dem 367 0%
Walsh, Cindy Dem  194 0%
Clifton, Mack Dem  189 0%
Cupid, Gersham Dem 124 0%
Wilson, Wilton Dem 66 0%

Mayor - Baltimore City - GOP Primary
April 27, 2016 - 05:08PM ET

Maryland - 294 of 296 Precincts Reporting - 99%
Name Party Votes Vote %
Walden, Alan GOP 2,871 41%
Wardlow, Larry GOP 1,278 18%
Vaeth, Brian GOP 1,152 16%
Girard, Armand GOP 894 13%
Torbit, Chancellor GOP 803 11%

Baltimore election chief defends primary process amid criticism

Yvonne Wenger and Michael Dresser
The Baltimore Sun

"Irregularities" questioned as Sheila Dixon's campaign awaits final vote count in close primary.
Baltimore's election chief is defending the integrity of last week's primary amid allegations that some ballots went missing and others were incorrect.

Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., director of the Baltimore City Elections Board, dismissed the accusations, saying his staff carried out their duties properly. He stressed that the election results are unofficial until all votes are counted.

The city board is processing approximately 8,000 provisional ballots and more than 3,800 absentee ballots that are arriving by mail daily, Jones said. He expects the final results to be certified Friday. A Maryland State Board of Elections official said that timeline was not unusual.

"I refuse to let anybody indict this board," Jones told The Baltimore Sun.

But two community activists cited what they termed "irregularities" that they say raise questions about the city's results. The Rev. Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon and Hassan Giordano said they are documenting complaints from voters, and they alleged that problems during early voting and on Election Day might have affected the outcome of several contests, including the mayor's race.

About 3,000 votes separate former Mayor Sheila Dixon and state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, who was declared the winner of the Democratic nomination for mayor based on the unofficial results. Dixon had 34 percent of the vote compared with Pugh's 37 percent when early voting and Election Day returns were tallied.

Another close contest is between Robert Stokes Sr. and Kelly Cross for the City Council's 12th District, which stretches from Jonestown and Oliver in the east to Charles Village and Remington in North Baltimore. Stokes, who drew 34 percent of votes, won the seat by about 350 votes, according to unofficial results.

Some Baltimore campaigns question missing precinct results after primary
Some Baltimore campaigns question missing precinct results after primary
Both Dixon's campaign and Cross said they're keeping a close watch on the process.

Martha McKenna, Dixon's spokeswoman, said "there are many, many questions about the administration of the election," including a number of polling places that opened late.

Pugh has said she is not worried about the election swinging in Dixon's favor as additional ballots are counted.

Cross said among the "irregularities reported in the 12th District are reports of a polling station opening an hour late and multiple instances of voters being given the wrong ballot."

"We cannot accept the status quo of machine politics in Baltimore that enables and accepts incompetence or misconduct," Cross said in a statement.

Witherspoon and Giordano are expected to hold a news conference Tuesday to call on Gov. Larry Hogan to launch an independent investigation.

Of chief concern, they said, are files that went missing from eight polling stations for 24 hours. Jones has said election judges sometimes inadvertently misplace or leave the results, contained on memory sticks, at the precincts when they close for the night. The missing files were located about a day later and incorporated into the unofficial results.

Jones noted that paper ballots used this year serve as a backup record for anyone questioning vote totals. He expects the city to receive as many as 15,000 absentee and provisional ballots.

The absentee ballots must be postmarked by April 26 to be counted.

Provisional ballots are typically handed out at polling places if an election judge has questions about a voter's eligibility. Jones' staff must review each one to see if the vote is legitimate. Some may be rejected if they lack a signature or contain partial information.

Although unlikely, Jones said the results of contests such as the mayor's race could change.

"You're dealing with numbers — anything is possible," Jones said. "But the way the numbers have been coming in, it's just not flowing that way."

Witherspoon said the concerns are widespread across Baltimore.

"We need answers to the questions that have gone unanswered, such as where these eight missing thumb drives went, how they were found, who found them, and whether or not these votes were compromised," Witherspoon said in a statement. He is president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

"We do not believe that the integrity of this election can be upheld with so many unanswered and lingering questions."

Giordano, a volunteer with the Dixon campaign, said he is talking to voters across the city to record their experiences. He said some voters were wrongly turned away for a variety of reasons, such as election judges not being able to find their registration information.

"How is the election supposed to inspire public confidence?" Giordano said. "This was an historic election. You know how hard it will be to get people to come back out to the polls if they can't trust the results?"

The group will ask the governor to call on the state prosecutor to investigate or appoint an independent investigator to examine the administration of the election in Baltimore.

A Hogan spokesman did not respond to request for comment.

State elections officials describe their relationship with local boards as a partnership. The state board has no legal authority over the city board. If a state board were to uncover evidence of potentially criminal activity in a local jurisdiction, it would refer that information to the Office of the State Prosecutor, board officials said.

Mike McDonough, deputy state prosecutor, said that office would evaluate any complaints brought to it. But he said the office is set up to investigate criminal activity, not performance.

"We're not an inspector general's office," he said.

Eleanor Wang, chairwoman of the city elections board, said the board stands behind the administration of the election — and Jones. She said the board believes the election went "pretty well," especially considering a new paper ballot system was being implemented.

Every vote will be counted, Wang said.

"Nothing is ever perfect, but we absolutely feel confident that … our judges were doing the very best they could," Wang said. "We have an excellent staff and our director is no exception. He is outstanding."

Jones said precinct-by-precinct results would be released Friday, after the vote is certified.

Donna Duncan, assistant administrator of the state board, said state rules call for the official results to be certified no later than a week following the Friday after the election. Thus, those results would be released either this Friday or the following Monday, she said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office referred questions to the city board, saying it is a state entity that is independent from the city.





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