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Board of Elections has failed Baltimore’s voters | READER COMMENTARY

Louisa Boyer, a provisional election judge, reviews paperwork at a voting center at Edmondson High School as voters arrive to cast their ballot in the 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Baltimore. The latest challenge to face city voters? Late arriving ballots for the June 2 primary. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Louisa Boyer, a provisional election judge, reviews paperwork at a voting center at Edmondson High School as voters arrive to cast their ballot in the 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Baltimore. The latest challenge to face city voters? Late arriving ballots for the June 2 primary. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Growing up, my mother and great-grandfather would take me with them as they went to vote. Through their example, especially that of my great-grandfather who grew up in a segregated south and vividly remembered the civil rights era, I learned that voting was not only a right and privilege, but also an obligation. I remember my excitement in 1994 when I was allowed to register to vote and participate in my very first election. I’m proud to say that I’ve never missed an opportunity to vote (“Ballots for Baltimore primary voters mailed one week late, due to arrive this week,” May 17).

Understandably with the COVID-19 pandemic and the abundance of caution for the safety of residents, the state of Maryland transitioned from in-person elections to a mail-in process. The Maryland State Board of Elections website states that, “All registered and eligible voters will be mailed a ballot for this election. You should receive your ballot in early to mid May.” Voters in most Maryland counties received their ballots in the first part of the May. As of May 19, while voters in other counties have not only received their ballots, but also many have already returned their ballots, Baltimore voters were still going to their mailboxes and wondering, #WheresMyBallot?

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Over the years, elections held in Baltimore have been plagued with a calamity of errors: improperly counted votes in the April 2016 election; polling places opening late; the lack of election judges; and polling places being moved. In most recent memory, many city voters complained of issues receiving their ballots in the 7th Congressional District to fill the seat of the late Elijah Cummings.

Let’s add, “Ballots for Baltimore primary voters mailed one week late” to the list. Such circumstances fuel voter apathy that’s swelling among city residents. One might even argue that it mimics a modern-day voter suppression in a region of the state with a high population of marginalized communities. With a continual influx of problems that plague our city — the lack of integrity for elected officials, a digital divide among residents, a distrust with the police, a city ridden in crime — we’ve added another scenario to the mix that’s making our city look dysfunctional, disenchanting and disgraceful. It’s hard to make Charm City “charming” when we are constantly on the defensive.

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I, like many city residents, take my right to vote very seriously. Not only am I standing on the shoulders of my legacy, but my vote helps shape the legacy for the next generation. At a time where voting is an utmost priority and taking part of the electoral process is encouraged, members of the elections board should be doing everything on their part to help facilitate the process, not impede it.

Dionne Nicole Curbeam, Baltimore

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