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Baltimore Mayoral Primary Under Investigation

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Who the next Mayor of Baltimore will be became confusing when the Maryland State Board of Elections decertified the election results on Thursday. The unprecedented move came after the state board found some 80 provisional ballots that were not included in the total and other inconsistences according to state election administrator Linda H. Lamone.

The confusion left the top two vote getters in the Democratic Primary race, State Senator Catherine E. Pugh and former mayor Shelia Dixon in a quagmire. Senator Pugh garnered some 2,400 votes more than Dixon. Pugh had initially declared victory on election night May 9 and was named the winner after Baltimore City election officials counted absentee and provisional ballots.

But Lamone, in decertifying the results pointed to several other areas where there were problems including discrepancies of the number people checking-in to the actual (higher) vote totals. “We are doing a precinct-level review,” she said. “We are doing this in fairness to the candidates and the voters.”

Pugh’s legal counsel Dara Lindenbaum, was circumspect in her assessment of the decertification, “It’s the mechanism you have to go through…we have faith and its way to early speculate on what might happen.”

Dixon was trying to regain her seat after being ousted following a trial where she was accused of using gift cards targeted to the poor. Her supporters watched on election night as a judge ordered four polling stations to stay open till 9 pm because they opened two hours late. Dixon surrogates questioned why some precincts (favorable to Dixon) went uncounted for hours and the large number of provisional ballots in the race. Even with the questions the former mayor was unable to close the gap. Days before the certification of the election, Dixon had ruled out a recount.

Doni Glover, the creator and editor of BmoreNews.com, an early Dixon supporter had questioned election procedures said, “It’s unprecedented, because there were such a variety of irregularities, the State Board needed to step in ensure accuracy and reestablish the credibility of our sacred right to vote.”

The State Elections Board will go precinct by precinct to determine if there were any irregularities. It could change the vote totals not only in the Mayor’s race, but also in some council races which were close. According to Lamone it could take weeks.

Because there is a 10-1 Democratic advantage over Republicans, the primary election winner normally goes on to become Mayor.