With a month to go before the July 19 primary election, a voter in northeast Baltimore’s District 43A received her absentee ballot this week – only to discover that it was a ballot for District 45.
Plugging her Elsrode Avenue address into the Board of Elections voting location look-up site, Joan Jacobson found that she was listed incorrectly as living in the 45th.
So were nearby neighbors’ addresses she randomly tested.
Jacobson knew she and others in this part of Lauraville were in 43A, and a subsequent check of the Maryland 2022 Officially Adopted House of Delegates Map confirmed it.
After she reported her findings on Wednesday, election officials acknowledged the mistake and confirmed it to The Brew.
“It’s not a lot. A couple of thousand voters, I think, is all,” Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., director of the Baltimore City Board of Elections, said. “We’re still trying to get a handle on it.”
“It’s not a lot. A couple of thousand voters, I think, is all” – Armstead Jones, director of the City Board of Elections.
This morning Jacobson, a former Baltimore Sun reporter and occasional Brew contributor, said she got an update from an election board staffer.
“She told me the state board will correct the error of putting my street – and four other streets she did not name – back in the 43A district,” Jacobson told The Brew.
The staffer said she was waiting for Jones and the state board to give her the go-ahead to send letters to all the voters affected and to send new absentee ballots to those voting by mail.
“They need to make this a big deal and correct it immediately” – Del. Regina T. Boyce (D, 43A).
Delegate Regina T. Boyce, a District 43A candidate, said the mistake was deeply concerning and should be promptly corrected.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a thousand voters or one voter – the election has to be conducted accurately,” Boyce said. “They need to make this a big deal and correct it immediately.”
City election officials have not yet responded to The Brew’s request for more information about the extent of the problem and how it occurred.
• UPDATE – State Board says only 150 voters were assigned to wrong districts in NE Baltimore (6/17/22)
Jacobson said the error is puzzling and apparently not just a result of the redistricting of Maryland legislative districts taking effect this year.
Harford Road forms the dividing line between the 45th District and the 43rd District, where she and her neighbors have voted for years. Redistricting split 43 into 43A and 43B.
But not all of 43A has been mislabeled. Other 43a addresses she checked closer to Harford Road were properly listed by the city elections board.
“It’s crazy. How did they pluck five streets out of the middle of 43A and put them in the 45th?” she said.
“It’s crazy. How did they pluck streets out of the middle of 43A and put them in the 45th?” – Joan Jacobson.
Jacobson said the mistake calls into question the accuracy of other Election Board procedures and whether incorrect ballots were mailed out in other districts.
“If I had not asked for an absentee ballot and questioned it, we may not have discovered the error until Election Day,” she said, noting that even a mistake involving a couple thousand ballots could be significant.
“In a district race, that could make the difference,” the former reporter said.
Jacobson noted she recently received a campaign mailer from a candidate apparently depending on the city’s incorrect map. It was from Delegate Chanel Branch, running in the 45th District.