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Analysis: Improperly scanned ballots too few to affect outcomes of Baltimore City Council primary races

The irregularities in Baltimore's primary election weren't extensive enough to affect the mayor's race, but what about City Council contests?

The State Board of Elections reported last month that 1,188 provisional ballots were improperly scanned — without verification that the voters were registered — in the primary election in April.

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That's too few votes to affect the outcome of the Democratic primary for mayor, where state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh defeated former Mayor Sheila Dixon by more than 2,400 votes.

But only hundreds of votes separate competitors in council races. An analysis of election data by The Baltimore Sun shows that the potentially invalid votes were too few to affect the outcomes of even down-ballot contests.

Some examples:

•In Southeast Baltimore's District 1, where 210 votes separate Republicans Matthew McDaniel and Liz Copeland, just 24 provisional ballots were improperly counted.

•In Northwest Baltimore's District 5, where Democrat Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer beat Betsy Gardner by 542 votes, 116 provisional ballots were in question.

•In West Baltimore's District 7, 139 ballots were improperly scanned. But 268 votes separate Democrats Leon F. Pinkett III and Shawn Z. Tarrant.

•In South Baltimore's District 10, City Council Vice President Ed Reisinger beat challenger Charlie Metz by just 130 votes. But there are only 80 provisional ballots in question in that district.

•The district with the most improperly scanned provisional ballots was central Baltimore's 12th District, where Robert Stokes beat Kelly Cross in the Democratic primary by 329 votes. But even there, the 216 questionable provisional ballots are not enough to make a difference in the outcome.

State officials have concluded that in some cases, provisional ballots were not set aside so that officials could later determine if the voter was eligible, but were scanned into the total. But there's no way to tell now if they should have been counted or not, officials said.

City officials have recertified the election results.

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