Just after 2 a.m. this morning, as voters and observers eagerly refreshed the Maryland State Board of Elections’ to see who might become the next mayor of Baltimore City, the results were completely wiped from the internet.
All the elections, from president on down, now showed “NR,” or “not reported,” where the tallies had previously been. Baltimore is the only jurisdiction in the state of Maryland to not have any primary election results posted on the board’s site, and as of this writing, there are still no returns.
Before the ballots were pulled, it appeared former Mayor Sheila Dixon was in the lead to win her job back based on 75,000 mail-in ballots that were received and counted. Down the ballot, it looked like Del. Nick Mosby was the frontrunner in the race for city council president and City Councilman Bill Henry was poised to upset Comptroller Joan Pratt, a six-term incumbent.
The results that were briefly shared did not yet show any numbers from in-person voting. According to the city board of elections, 6,236 Baltimoreans went to the polls to cast their vote in person.
Polls in the city did not close until 11:07 p.m., well after the scheduled 8 p.m. stop time, due to long lines.
And mail-in ballots could be postmarked on June 2 or placed in a ballot drop box up until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and still be counted.
Election officials already cautioned it could take days to get a final count. It’s not yet clear if the District 1 mix-up will alter that timeline in any way.
But things looked amiss in District 1, covering Southeast Baltimore. The incumbent on the council there, Zeke Cohen, shared a screenshot of results showing that he was getting trounced by his primary challenger, social worker Paris Bienert–pretty much upending all modern political orthodoxy about the relative safety of incumbency.
“State Board of Elections are you sure…?” he asked at 11:45 p.m.
Well, this is awkward. State Board of Elections are you sure…? pic.twitter.com/hBCrnwzkCF
— Zeke Cohen (@Zeke_Cohen) June 3, 2020
At 12:34 a.m., the city’s board of elections tweeted it was aware of potential issues and working with the state board. Roughly an hour and a half later, everything went offline.
This morning, the state board of elections released a statement saying a there was “a small proofing error” on ballots in District 1.
The board said it had caught an error on District 1 ballots and flagged it with the printing vendor, SeaChange.
“While the error was corrected in the official voting database, the error was not corrected on a portion of ballots that were mailed to voters in District 1,” the statement said.
This error–it’s not clear what exactly it was–made it so mail-in ballots in the district “could not be counted properly,” the board said.
Officials pledged to see if any other districts were impacted by errors. For now, they are certain the District 1 council race and an election for circuit court judge were impacted.
The state board said it would work with the Baltimore City Board of Elections to duplicate the affected votes on ballots that can be properly scanned.
“The post-election ballot tabulation audit conducted after every election will be carefully reviewed to confirm the accuracy of the election results,” the state board said.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, results reappeared on the state’s election website, including roughly 3,800 votes cast at the ballot box on Tuesday.
Dixon still leads the mayoral race with 24,278 votes, or 30 percent, trailed by Scott with 19,685 votes. Mosby still leads in the council president race by 12 points, and Henry holds a three-point advantage over Pratt.
Mail-in voting numbers for the District 1 council race. In a very small sample of in-person votes, Cohen leads Bienert by a tally of 79 votes to 33 votes.