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The mystery of the missing ballots baffles and irritates police union

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ten days ago, the Baltimore police union sent out 4,594 ballots for its election, in which five of a dozen board of director positions are being contested.

As of yesterday, only 30 people had sent them back and voted.

Labor officials aren't blaming apathy. Rather, they say, most current and retired members - including union President Gary McLhinney - never received a ballot in the first place.

They think the post office has lost them.

"Nobody is willing to help beyond giving us lip service," McLhinney said yesterday. "Now I might have to redo an election."

Postal officials are looking into the matter. "There does not appear to be any mishandling," spokesman David Lewin said . "There is nothing to suggest that we misplaced or lost the mailing."

Lewin said the mail may have been delivered, but few people are responding. "We might very well see another batch come through on Monday," he said.

But McLhinney said that officials in his office have questioned dozens of members and that no one they know has received ballots. He said a mail-in election typically has a 55 percent return rate.

The union has scheduled an emergency board meeting for Monday to decide what to do. They may throw out the 30 returns and send out another batch of ballots - which would cost about $2,800 in postage and more for reprinting.

McLhinney said the giant mailing was hand-delivered to the post office in Hampden - each sealed in an envelope with a 33-cent first-class stamp.

Officials there said the shipment was trucked downtown to the main post office building on East Fayette Street within an hour.

The deadline for voting is Sept. 25. McLhinney said he knows of only about 50 people who received a ballot in the mail and that they are scattered throughout the Baltimore area.

"The only explanation that we've gotten from the post office is that they're working on it," McLhinney said.

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