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Annapolis elections board investigating three voters each casting ballots twice in 2021 general election

The Annapolis board of elections is investigating three instances of voters in Ward 8 each casting two ballots in the 2021 general election.

The Board of Supervisors of Elections, which administers the city’s elections, was notified by county elections officials during a final canvass of ballots on Nov. 9, said the board’s chair Eileen Leahy.

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According to Leahy, three voters returned ballots either by dropbox or by mail, part of a new election system implemented this year that involved mailing to all registered voters in the city. The ballots were received on Oct. 19. The voters then visited the Ward 8 polling place on Election Day. Electronic poll books showed that ballots had not been received and they were allowed to cast ballots in person.

It is unclear what party the voters belonged to, who they voted for or if the ballots were even filled out. More than 9,900 ballots were cast in the general election. Two of those ballots were blank, election records show.

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Why the poll books did not show that the mailed ballots had been received is unclear, Leahy said. The matter has been referred to the Maryland Board of Elections for investigation.

”At this time we have not received evidence of intent to vote twice,” Leahy said. “We don’t know why it happened or how it happened.”

Leahy made a formal written request to the state board of elections on Friday asking how the voters were allowed to cast ballots twice and how this may be prevented in future elections.

”Our analysis shows that these three voters were the only voters who voted and returned a vote-by-mail ballot and also cast a ballot on election day,” said Nikki Charlson, Deputy Administrator of the Maryland Board of Elections, in a statement. “We are reviewing the circumstances and our processes to determine why the pollbooks did not show that these three voters had returned a vote-by-mail ballot and how to prevent this from occurring in future elections.”

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The Anne Arundel County Board of Elections, which is overseen by the state board, helped administer the 2021 municipal elections, including providing voting machines and workers to canvass ballots. The county board director David Garreis did not immediately respond for comment.

The ballots, along with all other ballots returned by mail or at drop boxes before Oct. 28, were counted at a canvass on Nov. 3.

When the duplicate ballots were flagged by elections workers at the second canvass on Nov. 9, the three-member board, including Leahy, a Democrat, fellow Democrat Briayna Cuffie, and Republican Rebecca Brenia, documented the occurrence. At the time, there was no evidence that any of the voters had intentionally voted twice, Leahy said.

Voting twice is illegal in Maryland. Any cases in which there is evidence of intent to vote twice would be referred to the Maryland Office of the State’s Attorney, Leahy said.

Mayor Gavin Buckley, a Democrat, defeated his Republican challenger Steven Strawn by more than 4,550 votes.

In Ward 8, Ross Arnett, a Democrat, prevailed against Rock Toews, a Republican, by 280 votes.

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