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Neighborhoodsby Brew Editors6:37 amNov 9, 20110

Branch defeats Sneed in 13th; Rawlings-Blake, other incumbents coast to victory

Malfunctioning voting machines hampered write-in voting in 13th

Above: Warren Branch appears to have won in the 13th, but The Brew and write-in candidate Shannon Sneed had reports of voting machine problems that hampered write-ins.

City Councilman Warren Branch defeated write-in candidate Shannon Sneed in the 13th District, according to Baltimore Election Board officials.

Branch won 1,691 votes in yesterday’s general election, while write-in votes amounted to 1,490.

Election officials said they can’t give the exact breakdown of write-in candidates until Thursday at the earliest. Presumably most of the 13th District write-ins were for Sneed, who mounted a spirited grassroots challenge to incumbent Branch.

The election board has downplayed reports of machine malfunctions at the Tench Tilghman polling station that led to 8-10 voters not able to record their write-in votes. The polling judge insisted to The Brew that only one voter was unable to record her write-in vote.

Kim Wiggins, Sneed’s volunteer coordinator, said this morning that the campaign has received three reports of voters complaining about machine problems hampering write-in voting. Wiggins said the campaign is looking into those problems and plans no statement on the election results until tomorrow.

Conaway Write-In Fizzles

In another closely watched race, Councilwoman Belinda Conaway failed to re-take her seat in the 7th District. Her write-in campaign fizzled against Nick Mosby, a newcomer who defeated her in the Democratic primary. The vote tally was 2,936 Mosby, 626 Conaway.

As expected, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake won a lopsided victory against Republican challenger Alfred V. Griffin and “stealth” write-in candidate Catalina Byrd.

Rawlings-Blake received 37,970 votes, compared to 5,826 for Griffin and 1,194 for write-ins.

Record Low Turnout

Republican, Libertarian, Green Party and independent challengers (see here) all failed to make a dent in the city’s stalwart support of candidates who won the September Democratic primary, where the real electoral fight took place.

Turnout apparently set a new low for Baltimore – less than 13% of registered voters. Most polling stations yesterday were empty as city residents went about their normal weekday routines. There was a 22% voter turnout in the September primary – the lowest recorded for a primary election in Baltimore.

In terms of sheer number of people voting for mayor, however, the totals have risen, the Mayor’s Office was pointing out this morning. In 2007, the total was 42,565, according to Ian Brennan, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake. The 2011 total from yesterday voting for mayor was 44,990, he said.

The 14-member City Council will have two new faces. In addition to Mosby, Brandon M. Scott will represent the 2nd District, replacing retiring Councilman Nick D’Adamo Jr.

In two other citywide races, incumbent City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young coasted to a victory against Republican David A. Wiggins and Libertarian Lorenzo Gaztanaga. City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt ran unopposed.

Charter Amendments Approved

Two amendments to the city charter were approved yesterday by wide margins.

The first would allow the establishment of one or more non-lapsing funds to create “modern state-of-the-art” public schools and the second would lower the minimum-age requirement for members of the City Council from 21 to 18.

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