Democrat named victor in Annapolis election Disputed write-in votes OK'd, reversing result

November 08, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis Board of Canvassers has made Democratic write-in candidate Cynthia Carter the winner of the Ward 6 alderman race, ruling yesterday that even ballots without her full name should count as votes for her.

The 2-1 decision, which helped Carter edge out Republican James R. Lucas by 11 votes, means the Democrats retain their 5-4 majority on the city council.

Lucas had been declared the winner of Tuesday's election with 316 votes to Carter's 288. But Carter, who filed too late to get on the ballot, contested the election results because the board had disqualified 39 ballots for "C. Carter" and 37 ballots for "Carter" on grounds that those voters did not write in her full name. She said it was obvious that the votes were meant for her.

Yesterday, board Chairman Richard E. Israel agreed.

"I think the board's ultimate responsibility is to the voters," Israel said. "Our basic guide is to ascertain the intention of voters. I think it shows beyond a reasonable doubt they were voting for Cynthia Carter."

The board ruled that ballots marked "C. Carter" were admissible because the 58-year-old Annapolis native was the only eligible Carter running in Ward 6 whose first name began with a "C," Israel said.

The "Carter" votes were thrown out because there are 10 other Carters in Ward 6, according to Anne Arundel County voter registration rolls.

The ruling overrode one of the ground rules for the write-in race that were set in October by the city Elections Board, Lucas and Carter. Carter's supporters were supposed to write her full name for their votes to count.

The Board of Canvassers rejected an argument by Lucas' lawyer, Thomas McCarthy Jr., that its members, who are charged only with counting and verifying votes, lacked authority to make yesterday's ruling.

"I think what this board can and only do is certify that some votes were cast for Cynthia Carter, some votes were cast for James Lucas and some votes were cast for a C. Carter. To take C. Carter, wave a wand over it and make it Cynthia Carter is going over the line," McCarthy said.

Allen J. Furth, who cast the board's only vote against Carter, said, "My standards are just a little higher than reasonable doubt."

Furth, Israel and Gertrude McGowan are members of both boards.

Carter, hugging her lawyers, said, "I want to thank God, first. I'm a little numb, but pleasantly surprised. I had a bunch of good people supporting me, backing me and fighting for me."

For Lucas, it was a surprising turn of events. Chosen by former Republican Alderman Wayne C. Turner, who resigned from the council in September, the 54-year-old businessman seemed to be a shoo-in because he had no opposition.

He said he is considering filing a lawsuit to appeal the board's ruling.

"They didn't change the rules on me," Lucas said. "They just changed the rules, period."

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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