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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hail Mary Thrown for the Jail Vote in Baltimore

     BALTIMORE (CN) — With elections less than one week away, a watchdog group has filed suit to protect the rights of nearly 2,000 eligible voters who are currently incarcerated while either awaiting trial or serving time on misdemeanor convictions.
     Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections, or Voice, brought the lawsuit on Oct. 27 in Baltimore City Circuit Court, saying the Maryland Board of Elections must be compelled to safeguard voting rights.
     The group estimates 1,100 individuals are registered to vote, and another 700 are eligible to register to vote. There may be thousands of other eligible voters in county detention centers, but the suit is limited to those in city centers.
     Although the Oct. 18 deadline to register in Maryland has already passed, Voice's attorney J. Wyndal Gordon said that residents are allowed same-day registration during the early-voting period, which began Oct. 27.
     These incarcerated people are legally entitled to vote, but there is no policy in place to allow election officials into the facilities or to train correction officials to handle elections duties, according to the complaint.
     The lawsuit comes after a federal judge cited lapsed time limits in tossing an unrelated challenge by Voice to allegedly mishandling of ballots in the primary election.
     The Baltimore City Board of Elections did not respond to a request for comment, and a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Board of Elections declined to comment because she had not seen the lawsuit.
     Voice acknowledges that the time is short before the Nov. 8 election, but says it is still possible to train volunteers and send them to the correctional facilities in Baltimore City.

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