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State Board of Elections Orders Baltimore Election Results De-Certified

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Two weeks after Maryland's primary election, the State Board of Elections has ordered the Baltimore primary election results be de-certified, according to board officials.

This puts the results, which were certified Monday, in question.

A precinct-by-precinct review of voter irregularities has already begun.

"We've started that process this morning and it continues through tomorrow," said Baltimore Elections Director Armstead Jones. "And we are confident once it's done, all of the paper work is put on the table, that we will be fine."

Linda H. Lamone, State Board of Elections administrator, tells WJZ that the de-certification was called for after officials found 80 provisional ballots that had not been counted after Monday's certification.

"My hope is once they get everything together, sorted by precinct, do the reconciliation, that they will be able to explain why the numbers are off," said Lamone.

There were also discrepancies at more than one precinct in the number of people who had checked in at their polling places but never cast ballots.

"They are supposed to report that information to me before the election is certified," Lamone said. "Baltimore City did it I think about the same time, and when we looked at the reconciliation, we saw that there were some discrepancies that we weren't happy with."

Lamone says she "thought it was only fair to the candidates and the voters" to call for a de-certification.

Democratic mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon, who was ultimately defeated by Catherine Pugh, says she's pleased every voter's voice will be heard.

"I'm pleased that there will be additional investigation into this election because every Baltimore voter who cast a ballot deserves to have their vote counted which still has not happened," said Dixon. "I'm particularly bothered that there are provisional ballots that have not been counted even though the Board of Elections moved to certify the results. I am hopeful that state's review will provide answers to my questions about whether proper procedures were followed during this election."

Election watchdogs cited late openings at polling places, a rush to train election judges, voters who were turned away or otherwise misdirected and data files of results that went missing for a day.

"The results that we've seen two weeks ago on Tuesday need to be questioned and/or thrown out and a new process needs to be done," said Hassan Giordana, political activist.

Now, 296 precincts will go under review.

"We're sorting everything by precinct, all the documents, all the ballots, everything is being sorted by precinct," said Lamone.

The decision to de-certify also stops the clock for deadlines on things like asking for an official recount, she added.

"This review by the board will give the citizens full faith in the election and we look forward to final certification," said Dara Lindenbaum, a lawyer for Catherine Pugh.

The state's election results must be certified by the end of the month. Officials are confident they will complete the investigation by then.

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