State Board Delays City Election Results Due to Ballot “Proofing Error”

An error on ballots mailed to voters in Baltimore City’s District 1 led to erroneous results because the ballots cannot be counted, the State Board of Elections (SBE) announced today.

While the early returns for all of Maryland’s jurisdictions began to appear on SBE’s website late last night, at about 2 a.m. this morning, the City’s results no longer appeared on the site and were instead marked as “NR” for not reported.

The State Board of Elections released the following statement:

During the ballot printing process, the State Board of Elections discovered a small proofing error in the ballot title for the Democratic contest for Council District 1 (Ballot Styles 1 and 19). The Board requested that the error be corrected with their printing vendor, SeaChange. While the error was corrected in the official voting database, the error was not corrected on a portion of the ballots that were mailed to voters in District 1. Due to this inconsistency, vote by mail ballot styles for District 1 could not be counted properly. The State Board of Elections is working to assess if vote by mail ballots outside of District 1 were impacted, but is not aware of any other inconsistencies at this time. It appears that the impacted contests are Council District 1 and judge of the Circuit Court.

The Board is committed to an accurate count of every eligible ballot in Baltimore City, including those impacted by the failure to print and mail the corrected ballot. The Board will work with the Baltimore City Board of Elections to duplicate affected vote by mail ballots onto correct ballots for scanning. The post-election ballot tabulation audit conducted after every election will be carefully reviewed to confirm the accuracy of the election results.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, SBE last month unanimously to authorize the Baltimore City Board of Elections to designate two additional in-person voting locations for the June 2 presidential primary election. The action came a day after Maryland’s legislative leaders sent a letter to SBE requesting additional ballot drop boxes and in-person voting locations due to delays in getting mail-in ballots to voters, particularly in Baltimore City.

Due to health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Larry Hogan in April approved a plan to conduct Maryland’s presidential primary election primarily via mail-in ballots, with limited locations to submit completed ballots at designated drop-off locations or to vote in-person on election day.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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