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Citizens group seeks new primary election in federal court

P. Kenneth Burns

Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections, VOICE, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court Thursday challenging the certification of Baltimore’s primary election results.

The citizens group is seeking a new primary election because of alleged irregularities that occurred primary day in April. Among other things, the group charges that election judges were hired without being trained.

State Senator Catherine Pugh defeated former Mayor Sheila Dixon in the Democratic primary, but the state Board of Elections decertified those results in May after an audit of ballots turned up problems. The board recertified the results last week after concluding that the problems uncovered--about 1,200 provisional ballots were scanned without judges verifying that the voters were eligible—would not have changed the outcome.

Hassan Giordano, a member of VOICE and a Dixon volunteer, says the problems that occurred on Election Day “did not inspire confidence within the electorate.”

“I guarantee 99 percent of the electorate in this town has no confidence in this past election,” he said.

He said his group will argue the outcome of the election would have been different had the improprieties not occurred. He pointed to the results of one race - the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District – where William Newton - one of the plaintiff’s in the case – lost to Corrigan Vaughn by 45 votes.

“The outcome certainly and the results of his race certainly could be defined as being changed if those irregularities had not happen,” Giordano said

He said the group thinks they have a better chance of having “a fair and impartial judge” to come up with “a fair and reasonable solution” in federal court than in state court.

“Many of the [Circuit Court judges] have either sought out advice or financial contributions or been appointed by members of the Democratic Party who obviously have a special interest that this goes away as well,” Giordano said.

Dixon, who has continued to call on residents to seek answers to why irregularities happened, is not a party to the suit complaint.