conway

State Senator Joan Carter Conway held a hearing to investigate the problems of Baltimore’s April election. (Maryland General Assembly)

On June 14 Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway held an oversight hearing in Annapolis to discuss the problem plagued Baltimore primary election back on April 26.

She said she spoke with the Director of the Baltimore City Election Board, Armstead Jones, and the Administrator of Elections for the State of Maryland, Linda Lamone, and discovered that Baltimore City had 1000+ voters who were not on the e-poll books.

Jones said many of Baltimore’s election day problems stemmed from the use of paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines. “This was the first time Baltimore City had used paper ballots in over one hundred years,” he said. In addition, he said that 400 judges who were supposed to be at polling places did not show up. Other problems included: a shortage of technicians, insufficient training of judges, insufficient amount of actual voting booths, large numbers of provisional ballots being scanned improperly, polls opening excessively late, poor warehouse conditions and inadequate staffing at the administrative office.

“As the director for Baltimore City Board of Elections things that I control I will make sure that corrections are made, things that are beyond me as far as these judges trying to hire judges putting them in precincts and they don’t show up. We have decided to basically hire 800 additional judges instead of the 400 and see what happens from there,” Jones said.

When pressed by Senators Conway and McFadden as to the effectiveness or adequacy of the training Jones said, “The problem Senator is simply this, and I say this all the time, if we have a precinct that has 7 judges in a precinct I guarantee you there are only two or three people that know what they’re doing.”

Perry Hopkins from Ex-Felons Voting Leaders came to express his outrage with the leadership in Baltimore City and detail the circumstances many of his members faced when they tried to vote last month. Hopkins said, “It’s leadership’s job to manage the polls, there was mismanagement. It’s leadership’s job to make sure that trained personal are there and available, he failed. It’s leadership’s job to collect and accurately report the results of an election, he failed there. It’s not the first time in the tenure. Citizens of Baltimore and the ex-felon voting community are asking for your resignation. We want a definite change in leadership prior to November when we have two to three times more people coming into the process.”

Lamone presented to the committee last and basically addressed the state’s role in the decertification process and their overall takeaways from the April primary. Lamone said Baltimore warehouses here election material is stored needed a massive overhaul. She said, “I think one of the biggest problems in Baltimore City is the fact that the main office is in a separate location from the warehouse. What happens election night is that a lot of the materials are delivered from the precincts to the main office but all the canvassing takes place and the reconciliation takes place out at the warehouse. Which means all of this logistics has to be followed to a tee to get everything separated correctly in the main office, transported out to the warehouse and then correctly associated with each precinct.”

To assist Jones, Lamone said at the end of June she will have 5 experts in the management, organization and logistics of warehouses come do an assessment of the Baltimore property.

Lamone said she wanted to make absolutely clear that the primary election results submitted after the reconciliation are accurate and that the correct people won. “I want to stress that we also examined whether or not these errors in Baltimore City would have affected the outcome of any of the races and we were able to conclude that they did not, which was fortunate. So even if you assume that all of the 1,188 provisional ballots should have been rejected, which would not have been the case, the winners would still be the winners and we know this because we know where the provisional ballots were scanned and which contests they could have impacted.”