Alleging a “vote-buying scheme” and citing multiple irregularities including polling places opening late and a letter improperly discouraging ex-offenders from going to the polls, a group of activists has petitioned a U.S. District Court judge to order a new primary for Baltimore voters.
The group, Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections (VOICE), filed the 24-page complaint against the city and state election boards, arguing that only a new election could provide an adequate remedy for their mishandling of the April 26 primary.
“There is no practical way to account for the votes that were illegally produced through the promise of jobs and payment and the provision of chicken boxes and snack boxes,” the 24-page complaint says.
The suit, filed by two candidates and an ex-offender in addition to VOICE, asks for the primary results to be nullified and for federal observers to be appointed to oversee the process.
State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh was declared the Democratic nominee for mayor, winning the election by 2,400 votes. Second-place finisher Sheila Dixon said earlier this week that she will not challenge the results of the election.
The Pugh campaign’s busing of prospective campaign workers to the polls during early voting and offering them food drew criticism. Campaign officials at the time said there was no attempt to improperly influence voters.
State election officials reviewed the election, but the results did not change the outcome of any race. Their review found that about 1,200 provisional ballots were improperly scanned on Election Day and that 500 additional ballots were not considered.