According to the director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections, the first draft of the 2014 general election ballot (Nov. 4) was due Aug. 22, and Russell A. Neverdon Sr. is still fighting to have his name included on it as a candidate for Baltimore City State’s Attorney.
On Aug. 25, attorney Edward Smith Jr., filed paperwork with the Circuit Court of Baltimore City on behalf of Neverdon, a veteran Baltimore defense attorney who has been running an independent campaign for the State’s Attorney’s office.
According to the Neverdon campaign, a judge has been assigned the case and the office of the Attorney General will represent the city Board of Elections. A pre-trial conference was set for this week.
Neverdon claims he collected 5,686 petition signatures, which would be significantly more than the 4,160 needed for him to be included on November’s general election ballot along with the winner of the June 24 primary for state’s attorney, Marilyn J. Mosby (she handily defeated the incumbent Gregg Bernstein by almost 10 points).
However, Board of Elections director Armstead B.C. Jones Sr. has declared only 3,099 of the signatures collected are valid.
State election law requires names on a petition to exactly match names on voter registration rolls and each name has to be dated. According to the Board of Elections about 500 of the submitted signatures were names of people not registered to vote in Baltimore City and another 300 signatures were not dated.
After Jones determined Neverdon was a little more than 1,000 signatures short, Mosby essentially declared victory in a tweet on Aug. 15.
“The verification process has (been) completed and I’m confident in BOE’s (Board of Elections) analysis. Our democracy has played out and I’m excited about next steps,” Mosby said.
Despite the ruling of the Board of Elections and Mosby’s declaration of victory, Neverdon presses on.
“We’re going to challenge the constitutionality of it and some of the other discrepancies and put it in the hands of the court. But, at the same time that does not challenge the fact that I’m still a candidate,” Neverdon said. “The question becomes whether your name appears on the ballot and that’s what the signature campaign was about, getting my name to officially appear on the ballot,” added Neverdon who said he is not averse to continuing his candidacy via a write-in effort.
The veteran defense attorney says he agreed to stay out of this year’s Democratic primary in an effort to prevent splitting the Black vote in the race to unseat Bernstein. He says he doesn’t regret the decision.
“The (overarching) goal was to give Baltimore a chance, that if they wanted change that they could do it and I felt that with two candidates challenging the same person…there was a good chance that would have ended up being the result, the vote would have been split,” Neverdon said. “I thought it was in the best interest of Baltimore City to… make sure that didn’t happen.”