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Politicsby Fern Shen and Mark Reutter11:11 amJun 3, 20200

After disappearing, preliminary vote counts return in Baltimore City election

State Board of Elections posts mail-in results showing Sheila Dixon ahead in the mayor’s race – and admits mistake in 1st District vote count

Above: The scene yesterday as residents waited to vote at Northwood Elementary School, one of six polling stations in the city. (Louis Krauss)

The problem-plagued Baltimore City primary has taken yet another baffling turn.

After wiping clean all election results early this morning, the State Board of Elections has now posted somewhat updated results that show Sheila Dixon ahead in the mayor’s race, Nick Mosby leading as City Council president, and Bill Henry and Joan Pratt neck-and-neck in the city comptroller contest.

Similar results disappeared on the SBE website overnight, replaced by “NR,” or not reported, next to all of the candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries in Baltimore City.

So far, there has been no explanation about why the vote count was zeroed out for over six hours.

The SBE has issued a press release acknowledging an error in the 1st District that resulted in an improper preliminary count in the City Council race between Zeke Cohen and Paris Bienert.

The agency blamed its Minneapolis-based vendor, SeaChange Print Innovations, for what it described as “a small proofing error” that was not corrected in the ballots mailed to 1st District voters.

The same statement said the election board “is not aware of any other inconsistencies at this time” in other city races, begging the question about why the preliminary vote counts had been pulled across the board.

Meanwhile, Baltimore City election officials abruptly cancelled a vote canvass scheduled for 9 a.m. today, rescheduling the canvass for 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Glaring Mistake

When the mail-in returns were first posted last night, they showed a glaring mistake in the 1st District race.

Bienert, a 27-year-old first-time candidate, was shown beating the well-funded and popular incumbent, Zeke Cohen, 1,882 to 39.

That result got many campaign insiders wondering what was going on.

“All they would tell me was it’s some kind of glitch,” said Hassan Giordano, an advisor to Dixon, who was headed for the city elections board’s West Baltimore warehouse before today’s vote canvass was cancelled.

“I think there’s something really wrong here,” he said.

Asked why the canvas was rescheduled for Thursday morning,  Baltimore officials referred The Brew to the SBE in Annapolis, which has not yet responded to our questions.

Preliminary Results

The preliminary results released within the last hour showed some candidates with strong leads.

Former mayor Dixon appears in a commanding position with 30.5% of the mail-in vote, followed by City Council President Brandon Scott with 24.7% and former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller with 16.7%.

Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor, had 12.1%, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young 7% and former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith 6.1%.

The preliminary returns from the City Council President showed state Del. Nick J. Mosby leading with 39.5%, followed by City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed with 27.4%, and former Councilman Carl Stokes with 24.3%.

The comptroller’s race appears to be close based on the early numbers. Longtime incumbent, Joan M. Pratt, is trailing challenger Bill Henry 48.4% to 51.6%.

The preliminary 1st District results have been corrected to show Cohen leading with 70.5% over Bienert’s 29.5% – with in-person and late mail-in votes still to be counted.

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