Mayoral candidate calls for media campaign to educate voters about correct primary date

August 18, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore mayoral candidate and state Sen. Catherine Pugh called Thursday for city officials to launch a media campaign to educate residents about the correct date for the Democratic primary after sample ballots mailed to voters listed the wrong one.

Pugh said that the city should have the correct date — Tuesday, Sept. 13 — on a banner running on every show broadcast by its cable station and resend the entire corrected sample ballot.

"Please engage in corrective action that will inform the public of what this date is and, more importantly, the mistake that has been made," she said during a news conference.

The error on one part of the 2011 Official Primary Sample Ballot incorrectly stated that the primary is on Saturday, Sept. 3 — an early voting date. The date was printed correctly in other places on the ballot.

The elections board planned to send out a postcard with the corrected date, with the printing company paying to print the card and the elections board paying to mail it.

"I cannot imagine being the mayor, with this kind of important document that has to be sent out to all the voters, that you would not have read this and made sure it is correct," Pugh said.

Ross K. Goldstein, deputy administrator of the state board of elections, said local boards of election operate largely independently of the local government. The governor appoints board members, who then hire the elections director and his staff, he said.

He said the Baltimore board notified state officials as soon as the error was discovered and that the state board was satisfied with the response.

Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also noted that the board does not operate under city government oversight. The board "is completely independent of city government, and for good reason," he said.

He said that the mayor did call the city elections board Thursday morning to express her concern about the error. "Clearly, what happened is not acceptable," he said.

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