A review completed Monday by the Maryland State Board of Elections into three voters from Ward 8 each casting two ballots in the 2021 Annapolis general election found certain records were not updated in electronic poll books on Election Day, which allowed them to vote in person despite also returning ballots by mail.
“Our review found that the process of updating the electronic poll books to identify voters whose vote-by-mail ballots have been received by election officials did not update all of the necessary records for the city of Annapolis’ general election,” said Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator of the state elections board, in a statement.
“The poll book did not show that ballots had been received for a subset of voters who returned a ballot between the initial export of eligible voters and a subsequent pull.”
Annapolis election officials were notified of the duplicate ballots during the Nov. 9 ballot canvass. The Board of Supervisors of Elections, chaired by Eileen Leahy, a Democrat, referred the issue to the state elections board for investigation. Reached Tuesday, Leahy said she couldn’t comment on the matter until she had discussed the matter with the state.
Leahy said Friday her board had not received any evidence of an intent to vote twice at the time but any such evidence presented to the board would be referred to the Maryland Office of the State’s Attorney. Voting more than once is prohibited in Maryland.
The three voters were registered to the Democratic Party and returned their ballots by mail, Charlson said.
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Leahy said her board planned to reach out to the voters about the incident.
The three mailed ballots were received on Oct. 19. They were among a subset of 676 voters that poll books failed to show ballots had been received when they actually had. A full review of the nearly 10,000 ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election was completed, and the three voters in question were the only ones who had cast ballots twice, Charlson said.
On Election Day, the three voters visited the Ward 8 polling site where electronic poll books showed their ballots had not been received and all three voters were allowed to cast ballots in person, Charlson said.
The three in-person ballots were counted on Election Day; the mailed ballots, along with all other ballots returned by mail or at drop boxes before Oct. 28, were counted at the Nov. 3 ballot canvass.
Election officials do not know who the voters voted for or if the ballots were even filled out. However, the three extra ballots were included in the final election results, Charlson said.
In order to prevent this from happening in the future, the final list of records that are generated for a municipal election will be “compared against the local board of elections’ count of received ballots to verify that the numbers match,” Charlson said.
None of the nine municipal elections were competitive. Democratic Mayor Gavin Buckley won reelection by more than 4,500 votes. Democratic Ward 8 Alderman Ross Arnett won a fifth term over Rock Toews, a Republican, by 280 votes.