With unanswered questions at 71 Baltimore precincts, candidates must decide this week whether to mount a formal challenge to a primary election in which there was a series of irregularities.

The campaign of former Mayor Sheila Dixon said she was considering whether to contest the vote before the deadline Tuesday to request a recount.


Martha McKenna, a spokeswoman for Dixon, said campaign officials were investigating issues left unresolved following last week's recertification of the primary. A review by the state Board of Elections left Dixon behind state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh in the mayor's race by 2,400 votes.

"We're pressing for more information," McKenna said. "We're in the process of trying to determine how we want to proceed, and we've contacted the [state] Board of Elections with additional questions and we're hoping to get answers."

McKenna said the campaign also was considering other measures, including litigation.

Court challenges must be filed by June 6, seven business days after the recertification.

Dara Lindenbaum, an attorney for Pugh, said her campaign supported the review of the primary.

"The board conducted a thorough review of all of the results, and we now have finality," Lindenbaum said. "We're moving forward to a general election. If and when any challenge is filed, we will vigorously defend the voters' decision to nominate Senator Pugh."

Pending a challenge, Pugh will face Republican Alan Walden and Green Party nominee Joshua Harris in the general election in November.

State officials intervened in the primary following a series of irregularities. Thy counted 169 more ballots last week. The new totals did not change the outcome of any race.

Baltimore's election results were decertified after city officials said they found 80 provisional ballots that had not been reviewed. The state's weeklong review raised more questions.

Officials discovered that roughly 1,650 ballots were not properly handled, among other problems. They found provisional ballots that should not have been scanned.

Provisional ballots are given to people who show up at the polls to vote, but whose names are not on the precinct's registered voters list.

Such people are allowed to cast ballots, but they are held and later reviewed to determine whether the voter was eligible. Most tend to be discarded because the voter was not registered with a party participating in the primary.

McKenna said the Dixon campaign was most concerned with 71 polling stations — nearly a quarter of the city's 296 precincts — where results could not be reconciled. She said questions include what information is missing that did not allow the state to settle all discrepancies, and what can be done to discover and analyze the materials.

"So many people in Baltimore want to get to the bottom of this," McKenna said. "Every day we think we have as much information as we can get. And every single day, we've received more information about the election.


"Precincts could not be reconciled. That puts a big question mark over the results."

McKenna pointed to the discovery of an additional 90 ballots in a group of 555 that state officials found toward the end of their review. None of them had been reviewed or counted.

Most were ultimately rejected.

"It has given people in this city pause about this election," she said.

Among those concerned is Hassan Giordano, a Dixon campaign volunteer and activist with the group Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections. He said the group was raising money and working with volunteer lawyers to petition the courts to order a new election.

They want the state and the U.S. Department of Justice to oversee a new contest in September.

Any challenge would have to prove that irregularities could have changed the results of a race, or that the way the election was held violated the law.

"The case has gotten stronger and stronger by the day," Giordano said. "In the 21st century, we can't allow this."