- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

Two Democratic candidates in this week’s primary elections are calling for investigations because of ballot and polling place problems in Prince George’s County that hampered voters and delayed results.

“There is uncertainty throughout this county,” said Chuck Perry, a D.C. attorney providing legal counsel to the campaign of Rushern L. Baker III, who was running for Prince George’s County executive. “There’s ample evidence of irregularities throughout the county that may have affected the outcome” of elections.

Mr. Baker, an education institute director, narrowly lost the primary to incumbent Jack B. Johnson.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Johnson led 52 percent to 48 percent, according to unofficial results on the county elections board Web site. Mr. Baker conceded the election Wednesday.

Baker officials said they are not presently contesting the election’s results, but called for an independent investigation of problems that included failures in transmitting results electronically from precincts to the board, the misidentification of voters’ party affiliations at some precincts and polling places opening late in some areas.

“We have another election in less than two months, at this point,” said Baker spokesman Alexander Krughoff. “This process has to be fixed by then.”

Baker officials will be contacting the office of the county state’s attorney and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to discuss a potential outside investigation, Mr. Krughoff said.

“The Board of Elections cannot investigate itself at this point,” he said. “They’ve proven in the last three days their complete incompetence.”

Mr. Baker did not attend yesterday’s press conference calling for the investigation. Mr. Krughoff said the candidate was meeting with Donna Edwards — a 4th District Democratic candidate for the U.S. House who trails incumbent Rep. Albert R. Wynn. There are still provisional ballots to be counted in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and Mrs. Edwards has not conceded.

Edwards campaign officials said they will be filing an injunction that asks a court to take possession of voting machines from the Chillum area that were delivered to the election board Wednesday at about 5 p.m.

Jonathan Shurberg, a lawyer for Mrs. Edwards, said the machines still had memory cards inside of them and that nobody could account for their whereabouts between Tuesday and Wednesday. The votes from those machines increased Mr. Wynn’s margin of victory substantially, Mr. Shurberg said.

In Montgomery County, officials have called for firings and an investigation of the county’s elections board for its failure to provide access cards for electronic-voting machines at the start of the primaries.

Thousands of voters were turned away or forced to use provisional paper ballots at the county’s 238 precincts. Paul Valette, elections operations manager for the county’s elections board, said it was his department’s fault that voters could not use the machines.

County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, sent a letter to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, calling for the firing of Margaret A. Jurgensen, director of the county’s board of elections since 2001, and the removal of Nancy H. Dacek, president of the board.

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