Election officials confused about Baltimore County school board race

It’s been four years since Maryland lawmakers authorized Baltimore County to conduct its first-ever school board election this year. The measure was reportedly bolstered by strong community support.

Yet with a Feb. 27 filing deadline fast approaching, only five people have declared their candidacies for seven seats on a hybrid board that also will include four appointed members and one student.

County election officials also did not have a clear understanding about the process. When asked by The Sun, election officials could not say whether candidates for the nonpartisan seats will appear on the June 26 primary ballots or just on the Nov. 6 general election ballots.

Katie Brown, director of the Baltimore County Board of Elections, acknowledged Thursday her office was confused about how ballots provided by the Maryland State Board of Elections would appear. She originally thought the authorizing legislation indicated that candidates would run only in the general election.

“I shouldn’t be guessing at this point,” Brown said.

By Friday, she and state election officials got on the same page.

Candidates are vying for seats in each of the seven County Council districts.

If only one or two candidates files to run in a district, their names will not appear on the primary ballot. Voters will decide the seat in November.

If no one files for a seat, the governor will appoint someone recommended by a nominating committee.

If three or more candidates file in a district, their names will appear on the primary ballot. The top two finishers in the primary will then face off Nov. 6, said Donna Duncan, an assistant deputy administrator at Maryland’s Board of Elections.

Duncan was unfazed by the confusion.

“It’s their first school board election,” she said.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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