Baltimore struggles to recruit, train additional election judges

Not as many Baltimore election judges as expected have signed up for November.

A month ago, Baltimore officials announced plans to hire an additional 1,000 election judges to ensure problems that surfaced in the April primary aren't repeated.

But with weeks to go before the November general election, around the same number of election judges as in April have signed up for training, Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., director of the Baltimore City Elections Board, told a Baltimore city council committee Wednesday evening.

Jones told council members that about 3,200 judges were recruited in the April primary, with 2,800 who ultimately signed up for training. Fewer than 1,900 showed up to work on election day.

The April primary was marred by polling places that opened late and provisional ballots that were improperly scanned. State officials temporarily decertified the city's April 26 primary results, concluding after an investigation that about 1,700 ballots were handled improperly, including 1,200 provisional ballots that were scanned without judges having verified that voters were eligible. About 500 provisional ballots were never considered.

Officials blamed the problems on election judges who didn't show up for work.

For November, about 3,700 to 3,800 judges were recruited, but only around 2,700 of them have been trained, Jones said.

Jones told council members it was difficult to recruit enough judges.

"We can only take people who sign up," he said. "We sent out postcards, we've done e-blasts, we've been on the news."

Though training for the judges ended last Saturday, Jones said his office will open up another two days of training for poll workers who are interested.

cwells@baltsun.com

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