Baltimore Takes Steps To Avoid Another Messy Election

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With the general election looming, Baltimore leaders have taken steps to ensure less confusion at the polls after a messy primary in April.

Wednesday morning, the city’s Board of Estimates approved $130,000 in funding for 1,000 more election judges — putting the upcoming election staffing on par with the 2008 presidential election.

The city has spent millions over the last decade in judge training, and the hope is that more judges will show up on election day in November.

In April, many judges failed to do just that.

“Hundreds of judges dropping out a week or so before the election has a great effect on the process,” according to Baltimore City Elections Board Director Armstead Jones.

Some were not properly trained on the new paper ballots, and there were allegations of voter fraud and suppression with closely watched races, most notably the mayoral race.

State election officials even de-certified the results for a time, saying almost 2,000 ballots were not handled correctly.

The new judges will get training from the University of Baltimore.

“I think it was very clear that there were mistakes made. The Governor is aware of them. The Board is aware of them. It’s clear that they’re making efforts to get it right because of the request for funding to do this training. My hope is that, you know, with all of us watching and understanding the importance of this election coming up that they will get it right.”

There should be about 10 judges for every polling place in Baltimore come November.

A federal lawsuit is pending and activist Hassan Giodano believes November could be worse.

“If they can’t get it right then it’s hard pressed to see them getting it right with twice the many number of voters,” Giodano says. “You can hire as many workers as you want, but if they’re not trained properly, you’re going to have the same fiasco we had in April.”

Election officials say they will focus on provisional voters–those people whose status is questionable at the polls. Among the 1,700 mishandled ballots, 1,200 provisional ballots were scanned into the tally during the primary when they should not have been.

“We are going to try to keep up with the provisional voter from the time they arrive to the time they end,” said Jones.

“It’s clear they are making efforts to get it right because of the request of funding to do this training. My hope is that with all of watching and understanding the importance of this election coming up that they will get it right,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Those critical of the election board would like to see federal monitors in November. Those critics also say they are still suing in Federal Courty to invalidate the April results.

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