"I felt discouraged during the Baltimore election, because I wasn't allowed to vote, and now I was available to vote this time, and my vote wasn't counted," said Michael Watt, an ex-felon. "So we can make a difference in the community, and what did he do?and more »
A coalition of concerned citizens and ex-felons are calling for the dismissal of Baltimore City elections director Armstead Jones, claiming he tried to suppress certain votes during the primary election.
None of the claims are new, and Jones has already addressed all of them."Armstead Jones personifies, in our opinion, a continuing effort to suppress the vote in this city," said Leo Burroughs Jr., chairman of the Committee of Concerned Citizens Inc.The group cites polls not opening or closing on time and letters that were sent to ex-felons, telling them they are not eligible to vote. State officials said 35 letters were accidentally mailed and correction letters immediately followed.The group points to a judge shortage, election results certified before all ballots had been counted and miscounted ballots."(It's) voter suppression," said John Comer, co-executive director of Maryland Communities United.This year, Maryland law expanded voting rights for ex-cons, allowing them to cast ballots after getting out of jail, instead of waiting until their probation and parole ended."I felt discouraged during the Baltimore election, because I wasn't allowed to vote, and now I was available to vote this time, and my vote wasn't counted," said Michael Watt, an ex-felon."So we can make a difference in the community, and what did he do? Mr. Armstead Jones tried to underhand, suppress our vote," said Reginald Smith, an ex-felon.Earlier this year, the Maryland state Board of Elections and a Senate committee called on Jones for an explanation. Jones said he wants to recruit 800 judges for the general election because 400 failed to show up on primary day.Polling places opened late and unverified provisional ballots were counted. Jones said he plans to secure more poll workers. Jones said the firm hired to provide poll workers failed to meet its obligation. He also plans to organize the city election warehouse where voting equipment is stored.But demonstrators remain skeptical."He has proven himself incapable of doing that," said Perry Hopkins, with Communities United.Contacted Thursday afternoon, Jones toldÂ 11 News he is working on a response.
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