Baltimore primary election decertified over disappearing votes

Criticism of Baltimore’s election process mounted Friday as state officials closed in on an explanation of why the number of voters who checked in at the polls in last month’s primary was less than the number of ballots counted.

Leaders across the city said they had serious concerns about problems that led the Maryland State Board of Elections to order city election officials to decertify the results of the primary Thursday so it could conduct a precinct-by-precinct review.

Longtime City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who has worked for decades on elections in Baltimore, called the problems with the primary a tragedy.

“We emphasize the importance of a vote,” she said. “And the minute we shortchange it, we shortchange everything we establish to keep this a democratic society.”

The discrepancy between the number of voters and number of ballots appears to have occurred because voters or election judges scanned provisional ballots at polling places, rather than setting them aside to be reviewed later, Maryland Election Administrator Linda H. Lamone said.