Neverdon to judge: city elections workers 'messed up' in rejecting signatures

A veteran defense attorney running an independent campaign for Baltimore state's attorney argued in Circuit Court Friday that city election workers "messed up" when they ruled he did not have enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. 

"Just because they say it's so, don't make it so," said Edward Smith Jr., the attorney for candidate Russell A. Neverdon Sr. "Each and every [signature] they looked at, they messed up."

Judge Martin P. Welch said he will postpone ruling on the case until after he hears more evidence next Friday. 

The city's Board of Elections said earlier this monrth that Neverdon fell more than 1,000 signatures short of the 4,160 needed to challenge Democrat Marilyn J. Mosby on the general election ballot. Neverdon appealed that decision. 

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Darsie, who is representing the elections board, acknowledged that elections officials could have made some errors, but not more than 1,000 of them. 

"It's possible they made a very small number of mistakes," he said. "So far, we haven't seen any evidence of mistakes." 

Neverdon has said his campaign closely reviewed the 5,686 signatures collected before submitting them to the Board of Elections. But Armstead B.C. Jones Sr., director of the city elections board, said nearly 500 of Neverdon's signatures belonged to people who are not registered to vote in Baltimore, and another 300 did not have dates affixed. 

Maryland law requires that signatures exactly match names as they appear in state voter registration rolls. 

Darsie said it was important to get the matter resolved before ballots are sent to military members overseas on Sept. 19. 

Judge Welch agreed, saying: "Time is of the essence in this case." 

Mosby upset incumbent State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein in the June 24 primary. No Republican is running.

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