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Conaway alleges fraud over absentee ballots in city election

ElectionsEric HolderBelinda ConawayStephanie Rawlings-Blake

Baltimore City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, who is running a write-in campaign to keep her seat in the Nov. 8 election, accused the city elections board Tuesday of committing "major fraud" by mailing out incorrect absentee ballots to 7th District voters.

Conaway said she has confirmed that at least seven voters in her district received 6th District absentee ballots in the mail, and worries that the problem could be more widespread. Conaway said she sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., asking him to intervene in the administration of the election.

"We believe … all of the absentee ballots from the 7th District might be similarly tainted," she said at a news conference outside the city's elections board, where she was joined by supporters who carried signs that said "Baltimore City Tricked Voters" and "Baltimore City Voter Fraud."

Armstead B.C. Jones, the city's election director, said no voters had complained to him. He said he would investigate now that he has learned about the issue. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice didn't respond to a request for comment.

Conaway said absentee voters among her supporters could not successfully vote for her using 6th District ballots, though she also acknowledged that other candidates running for the 7th District council seat would be hurt if their supporters received the wrong ballots.

"The people of Baltimore are faced with the question of whether the defective absentee ballots are a deliberate effort to steal votes or whether they are simply the result of gross incompetence," she said.

This year's primary and general elections are the first in which city residents are voting in newly drawn districts. Some of the new lines changed the boundaries between the 6th and 7th districts.

The city elections board has disseminated erroneous information before. In August, the board sent out sample ballots that listed an incorrect date for the primary election.

Conaway lost the Sept. 13 Democratic primary to Nick Mosby — a political newcomer supported by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — by about 650 votes. Conaway is waging a write-in campaign to keep her seat. A Republican, Michael John Bradley, also is running.

Mosby said he had not heard of the problem and would ask residents about it while campaigning.

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