Coming off a primary election whose administration was roundly denounced and is now the subject of a federal lawsuit, senior staff of the Baltimore Board of Elections will head, en masse, to a conference with their peers on the Eastern Shore.
The Board of Estimates is set to approve $13,020 in general funds to pay for a dozen officials, including all five members of the Election Board, to attend the Maryland Association of Elected Officials (MAEO) annual meeting between June 19 and 22.
The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge.
The registration fee is $260 for each of the 12 officials, or $3,120. The remaining $9,900 allotted to the trip will apparently involve overnight lodging and food at the resort. (The breakdown of costs is not disclosed in the Board of Estimates agenda.)
The purpose of MAEO, which attracts election officials from across Maryland, is “to improve the election and registration procedures in the state.”
The city delegation – led by Election Board President Eleanor Wang, Vice President Lawrence Cager Jr., Election Director Armstead B.C. Jones Sr. and Deputy Director Abigail Goldman – will play a low-key role at the meeting.
According to the online schedule, the city group has only one official function on the conference agenda: Jones will deliver an “Education Grant Report.” In comparison, the Baltimore County delegation is headlining in six events and break-out sessions.
When Jones and the board return to Baltimore, they will face a City Council hearing on the multiple mistakes that took place during the April 26 primary.
These include the late opening of some precinct stations, the dearth of election judges, misplaced thumb drives with voting data and the under-counting of provisional ballots that led the Maryland Board of Elections to require the city to undergo a review and recount before the state certified the primary results.
At the request of Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, the Council voted last night to call on Jones and state election officials to explain what went wrong and what steps they are taking “to ensure a fair and efficient Baltimore City General Election on November 8, 2016.”