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Some Baltimore campaigns question missing precinct results after primary

Crowds gather for early voting Thursday afternoon at the Baltimore City Public Safety Training Center on Northern Parkway.
Crowds gather for early voting Thursday afternoon at the Baltimore City Public Safety Training Center on Northern Parkway. (Tim Prudente / The Baltimore Sun)

Some campaigns in close races in Baltimore are questioning why results from eight precincts went missing for about 24 hours after primary election night.

For about a day, results weren't included in the official tally from two precincts in West Baltimore's 9th District, two precincts in Southwest Baltimore's 8th District, and single precincts in West Baltimore's 7th District, Southeast Baltimore's 1st District, Northeast Baltimore's 2nd District and central Baltimore's 12th District.

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Democratic candidate Kelly Cross, who trails Robert Stokes Sr. by 364 votes in the 12th District, posted a note to his supporters online questioning the process and telling them their votes "may have been compromised."

"There are reports that thumb drives containing vote tallies from EIGHT precincts were unaccounted for during almost 24 hours after the election," Cross wrote. "I trailed the leading candidate by only 209 votes before the missing thumb drive was delivered to the Baltimore City Board of Elections. When the thumb drive was delivered, 370 additional votes were registered and Robert Stokes had 202 additional votes. We are awaiting the final count of the provisional and absentee ballots."
Likewise, the campaign of Democratic mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon has questioned the process. Dixon trails State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh by 2,574 votes in the mayor's race. Dixon's spokeswoman has said the missing files mean the "validity of this election has been in doubt."
City election chief Armstead B. Crowley Jones Jr. said Friday the missing files were located at various polling stations. He said the results of those precincts have been added to the official tally.

"When election judges pack up and leave [on election night], they sometimes leave the memory sticks or put them in wrong place. Whatever's out, we go and find it," he said. "It's not uncommon. Judges misplace stuff."

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Jones emphasized that the paper ballots used this year serve as a backup record for anyone questioning the results. "We use some 200 buildings," he said. "I don't have the keys to them. There are a lot of things beyond my control."

Jones said more than 3,000 absentee ballots and 7,000 provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

"The absentee ballots are hard to determine because mail is still coming in," Jones said.

Jones said 3,786 absentee ballots have been counted. Pugh's lead over Dixon widened by about 400 votes after they were counted.

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