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The Dripby Fern Shen10:06 amJul 9, 20220

For determined Baltimore voter, third time’s the charm

After the city sent Joan Jacobson a mail-in ballot for the wrong district, they had the correct one hand delivered to her – except that it was wrong again

Above: Lauraville resident Joan Jacobson with her hard-won mail-in ballot. (Bill Barry)

On June 15, voter Joan Jacobson told Baltimore election officials she had received a mail-in ballot for the wrong legislative district. They soon confirmed that she was right.

Polite and apologetic, they promised to mail her a new one, said Jacobson, whose notification helped trigger an investigation that eventually determined that some 15,000 voters statewide had been assigned to the wrong district.

But 20 days later, as The Brew reported, the District 43A voter still had not received the ballot she was expecting in place of the District 45 one she had been mistakenly sent.

Would she receive the ballot in time for the fast-approaching July 19 primary? Were the 750 other city voters sent incorrect ballots still waiting on theirs?

Yesterday morning, Jacobson received a call from a woman at the Board of Elections asking if she had received her ballot.

“When I said ‘no,’ she said she would have the warehouse print out another one and deliver it to my door,” Jacobson told The Brew.

Later that day, the ballot was hand delivered – but to Jacobson’s neighbor’s house because the city had the wrong address listed for her.

When the retired journalist finally got a look at the ballot, she was surprised to find it still wasn’t right.

“Yet again, it was the wrong ballot – District 40 instead of 43A,” Jacobson marveled.

Later that day, election officials sent someone out to hand her yet another ballot and, finally, it was the right one.

“Third time’s the charm,” she observed drily.

Lingering Problems

Officials have attributed the errors to statewide legislative redistricting that took place this year, changing some district boundaries.

Legal challenges delayed the process of finalizing the boundaries, shrinking the window of time available to prepare for the election.

Last week, just days ahead of the early voting that began on Thursday, the State Board of Elections announced it had corrected all errors and mailed proper ballots to those who earlier received the wrong ones.

But Jacobson’s experience shows that not all of the problems have been ironed out.

“On election day, there might be other examples of voters discovering they are registered in the wrong place”  – Joan Jacobson.

“My take away is we all have to be persistent to make sure we are registered to vote correctly in the newly drawn state districts,” Jacobson said. “On election day, there might be other examples of voters discovering they are registered in the wrong place.”

Asked about the unusual way election officials handled her problem, the Lauraville resident said, “It just proves the cliche that the squeaky wheel does get the grease.”

Ideally, she pointed out, the system should work so that voters don’t have to make multiple phone calls to get their proper ballots – and officials don’t have to hand deliver them to correct their mistakes.

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