Tag Archives: District 16

Did the MVA Voter Issue Change Any Maryland Primary Results?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The failure of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to transfer data on some voters who changed their registration information to the State Board of Elections (SBE) has attracted lots of attention from the press and members of the General Assembly.  Here is a key question: did it actually change the outcomes of any elections?  New data allows us to examine this issue.

Recently, SBE sent the General Assembly the number of voters affected by the MVA registration change issue by party, precinct, state legislative district and Congressional district.  We show the total number of voters affected by state legislative district below.  (Note:  The data does not include all potentially impacted voters because SBE cannot map all addresses on file with MVA to addresses in the voter registration list.)

Now what happened to these voters?  These are folks who tried to change their voter registration address or party affiliation at MVA and, unfortunately, the changes were not passed on to SBE.  One of five events would have happened to these voters.

Possibility 1: 5,163 affected voters voted normally because they changed addresses within the same area.  We don’t have their distribution by legislative district.

Possibility 2: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently accepted.

Possibility 3: They could have voted through a provisional ballot which was subsequently rejected.

Possibility 4: They could have been told at the polling place that they must cast a provisional ballot and then left without voting.

Possibility 5: They may not have tried to vote at all.

Right now, we don’t know the distribution in each one of the above five event categories.  We do know that the number of affected voters who voted provisionally was 3,538 but we don’t know how many of those ballots were rejected.  Possibility 4 – leaving the polling location without voting – is the most unknowable of all and also the most disturbing.  It’s also a very real possibility as illustrated by Maryland Matters’ report of this exchange at a General Assembly hearing between SBE Administrator Linda Lamone and two state legislators.

Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) seemed concerned that while the estimated overall turnout statewide was about 25 percent, among the affected voters – roughly 8,700 affected voters who used either provisional or regular ballots – the turnout was less than 10 percent.

“Is it reasonable to say that this may have had a deterrent effect on voters, or are you concerned that it could have had a deterrent effect on voters?” Luedtke asked.

“Yes,” Lamone replied.

“That’s a key issue for us,” Luedtke said.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), vice chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, asked Lamone if she knew of any studies that showed the use of a provisional ballot was “dissuasive.”

“I have seen some discussion of that, senator,” she said. “I haven’t seen the numbers, but I have seen some discussion that people believe that it’s less than a vote – it’s not a real ballot.”

Under further questioning by Pinsky, Lamone agreed that voters could have been put off by the prospect of using a provisional ballot.

“There could be some number of voters out there who didn’t vote because of this error?” Pinsky asked.

“That’s correct,” Lamone replied.

Did any primary election results change because of this mistake?  We will never be able to answer that question, but we can identify some elections that were close enough so that an impact was possible.  Below are eight races across the state in which the number of voters affected by the MVA issue was at least five times the winning margin held by the victor.

This does not include the Baltimore County Executive race (a seventeen-vote margin after recount) or the Howard County Council District 1 race (a six-vote margin after recount) because their boundaries do not match state legislative district data, but obviously, they could have been affected.  Other than those two races, the ones in which the MVA mistake had the greatest probability of affecting the election were the contests for Montgomery County Executive and House District 16.  In the MoCo Executive race, Marc Elrich led by 492 votes in early and election day voting and David Blair led by 73 votes in provisional voting.  That compares to a total of 5,381 MoCo Democrats affected by the MVA issue.

Going forward, there are two areas of concern.  First, there must not be a recurrence of this issue in the general election.  And second, now that the state has passed automatic voter registration, a law that mandates the passing of voter information between numerous state agencies and SBE, the potential for the kinds of problems seen at MVA is now greatly magnified.  Imagine the chaos that would result from MANY thousands of voters showing up to the polls thinking they had registered but then finding out that SBE did not have their information.  It would make the MVA issue look tiny and would have the potential to affect a whole lot more elections.

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Samir Paul Raising Money for Recount

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16 House candidate Samir Paul, who led for most of the ballot counting over Sara Love but now trails by nine votes, is raising money to finance a recount.  We reprint his blast email below.

*****

Folks,

Sorry for the long radio silence since the election on June 26. The count is finished, and we’re currently down by 9 votes out of 55,581 cast in the race. With such a razor-thin margin, we’ll file for a recount so we can be absolutely confident every vote was counted. Thanks for your support so far.  It’s going to cost more than $15,000 in legal fees, so please help if you can manage: samirpaul.com/recount

It’s normal, I think, for a result this close to sting. But as I wrote to my campaign team 11 days ago on an uncertain election night, we overcame some absolutely massive disadvantages to run a campaign that has surprised many of the political insiders who didn’t think a middle-class, immigrant-son teacher like me could compete in a race like this. Win or lose, we definitely won.

In a race this close, every single thing we did mattered. Every door you knocked when you were tired and sweaty, every stranger you greeted at the polls when they were just slightly out of your way, every phonecall you made or email you sent or dollar you gave or tweet you tweeted or postcard you hand-wrote. All of it made this quite remarkable outcome possible, and none of that happened by accident. It happened because of YOU.

So thanks for everything you’ve done so far. If you can kick in a little more for our homestretch recount fund, please stay in the fight with us. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more and — regardless of what happens — I’ll keep fighting for a more just, inclusive, and abundant world.

Samir

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The Wilhelm Ballot

By Adam Pagnucco.

Here is something we haven’t seen before: a mid-term year Apple Ballot with one candidate occupying one side of it and a list of others on the other side.  This Apple, still in wrapping, is customized in favor of Council At-Large candidate Chris Wilhelm.

Here is another one spotlighting District 16 House candidate Samir Paul.

The Apple we were given at the Wheaton early voting site was not like these.  It had county candidates on one side and state candidates on the other, a typical format used in the past.

Wilhelm and Paul are MCPS teachers.  We totally get why MCEA would like to elect its own members to office, although that has not always been their top priority.  For example, the union endorsed County Council District 5 incumbent Derick Berlage over MCPS teacher Marc Elrich in 1998.  In Elrich’s 2002 and 2006 races, he did appear on the Apple but we don’t recall him getting an entire side of it to himself.

The races involving Paul and Wilhelm are very different.  In District 16, the two incumbent Delegates – Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are endorsed by MCEA and a lock for reelection.  Paul is in a tight contest with fellow new candidate Sara Love for the open seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick.  He needs every edge he can get.

The Council At-Large race, on the other hand, is extremely competitive and unpredictable.  MCEA has endorsed incumbent Hans Riemer, Brandy Brooks and Will Jawando in addition to Wilhelm.  Riemer seems likely to be reelected but that’s about all that can be safely predicted in this race.  What will Riemer, Brooks and Jawando think of the Wilhelm Ballot?

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Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 16 and 17, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16

First, the easy part: all three incumbents – Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are running as a team and are headed to reelection.  Lee has historically been one of the delegation’s best fundraisers (although Korman surpassed her by a little bit this cycle).  Kelly is beloved by advocates for families, women and children for her work on their issues and has emerged as a leader on ridding Annapolis of sexual harassment.  Korman is a rare bird: a lawyer who is good with numbers.  Metro riders everywhere should thank him for his tenacious work to improve WMATA.  Great things are predicted for Korman so long as he does not return to blogging.

Attorney Sara Love and MCPS teacher Samir Paul are the top non-incumbents vying for the seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick, who is running for County Executive.  Love and Paul would be great candidates in any part of the county, but unfortunately for them, they are running in the same district.  Love fits in well with the progressive female voters who dominate District 16 primaries.  Paul is a teacher who has been active in MCEA (which has endorsed him), but his message is much bigger than education as he draws links between all public institutions that confer benefits but require investment, especially WMATA.  Love and Paul had super fundraising performances and are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Those who have met them are impressed with both of them, but sadly, there is only one open seat.

The Big Question: will Frick, who filed a disappointing January report, drop back down to the House race?  We know Frick does not enjoy that question, but since he withdrew from the Attorney General’s race and refiled for Delegate at the last hour in 2014, this is on everybody’s mind.  Such a move by Frick would probably result in all four incumbents being reelected, wasting huge time and effort by Love and Paul.

District 17

This district is a mess.  The only certainty here is that Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve will be reelected, assuming that Kagan is not picked up by a gubernatorial candidate as a running mate.  As for everything else… well.

At the root of the mess is Delegate Jim Gilchrist.  By all accounts, he is a nice guy who never causes trouble.  His defenders describe him as a studious, intellectual workhorse who gets into the weeds and doesn’t claim credit for anything.  But he has little tangible to show for three terms in office.  He has passed no signature legislation.  His website is inactive.  His Facebook page has not been updated since 2014 as of this writing.  And his fundraising is weak.  Consider this: since 2006, Gilchrist has raised a total of $83,217 from others, an average of $27,739 per cycle.  (He has also self-financed $11,120 over that period.)  MoCo has a bunch of candidates who can raise $27,000 in a month.

The search result for Gilchrist’s website less than five months from election day.

So why does he keep winning office?  He has a guardian angel: Barve, who is his committee chair and likes him.  Barve slates with him regularly and appears in joint mailers with him.  Gilchrist would be a goner in most districts, but with Barve helping him, he survives.  And that has caused grumbling in some parts of District 17.

This time, Rockville City Council Member Julie Palakovich Carr decided to run for Delegate in July even when it appeared that all three incumbents (Barve, Gilchrist and Andrew Platt) were running for reelection.  Six months later, Platt dropped out and Barve and Gilchrist quickly decided to slate with Palakovich Carr.  That’s when simmering tensions erupted into the open.

Kagan, who is no fan of Gilchrist, announced that she was not endorsing the Delegate slate, at least not yet.  This is almost unheard of; in virtually all cases when incumbent Delegates form a slate and none of them are challenging the sitting Senator, the Senator participates.  And when Kagan posted her decision on Facebook, the Mayor of Gaithersburg and two Gaithersburg City Council Members voiced their displeasure with the slate.

Open dissatisfaction with the Delegate slate surfaces on Kagan’s Facebook page.

The nominal reason expressed by some for their unhappiness is that with the inclusion of Palakovich Carr, all three slate members are from Rockville and none are from Gaithersburg.  (The two cities are roughly equal in size.)  But lurking underneath is festering discontent with Gilchrist’s performance in office.  Some would prefer open competition in part because it might lead to Gilchrist’s defeat, but instead they got another slate designed to protect him.  Two Gaithersburg House candidates – school board member Rebecca Smondrowski and attorney Julian Haffner (who is married to a City Council Member) – have now entered the race.  Barve is the only Delegate candidate with any real money, so all the others have a lot of work to do.

The Big Questions: will the Gaithersburg grumblers step up and organize for one or more of the House candidates from their city?  Or will they cut their losses and make their peace with Barve and his slate-mates?  And what, if anything, will Kagan do?

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Delaney Dominoes

By Adam Pagnucco.

From the perspective of political blogging (which we all know matters most!), Congressman John Delaney is the greatest Maryland politician of all time.  That’s not because of anything he has done in Congress.  (No one does anything in Congress these days!)  It’s because his decision-making has affected the races for Governor, Congress District 6, County Executive, County Council and several State Senate and House of Delegates seats.  This is an enormous bonanza for political junkies and will keep us VERY busy.  We love you, John Delaney!

Here’s a quick and dirty take on how the Delaney Dominoes are falling.

Governor

None of the Democratic candidates for Governor fit Delaney’s ideological center-left positioning.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who can claim that his jurisdiction has not increased either property or income taxes in twenty-five years, might come closest.  But the biggest impact of Delaney’s absence may be geographic.  With the Congressman out and former Attorney General Doug Gansler not showing signs of serious activity, Senator Rich Madaleno might be the only MoCo candidate in the race.  That’s a big deal.  If Madaleno consolidates MoCo while three African American candidates run hard in the City and Prince George’s, this race becomes very unpredictable.  (Disclosure: your author has done work for Madaleno.)

Congress District 6

Total Wine co-owner David Trone has been interviewing elected officials, activists, operatives and other local players for months as he figures out his options.  Our hunch is that he will see Delaney’s congressional district as his best play and run there.  He will join Delegates Bill Frick and Aruna Miller, Senator Roger Manno and former Democratic nominee Andrew Duck on the Democratic side.  The Republicans should have a vigorous primary too as they have a real shot at the open seat.

County Executive

If Trone runs for Congress, that will leave three term-limited Council Members – Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – as the only Democrats running for Executive at this moment.  But given the fact that most Democrats voted for term limits and anti-tax sentiment continues to linger, it’s hard to believe that a non-Council Member will not get in.  Trone’s absence creates a void that could very well get filled.

County Council

County Council candidates will all sigh in relief if Trone runs for Congress.  That’s because there have been rumors of a Trone Slate for months in which Trone would deposit his own money in a slate account to be drawn on by allied council candidates.  With that possibility off the table, the at-large candidates are on their own.   Since most are in public financing, it’s unlikely that very many of them will accumulate large financial advantages of 3-to-1 to 4-to-1 over their nearest rivals.  That makes for very competitive races in District 1 and at-large.

State Legislative Districts

If Miller, Frick and Manno stay in the race for Congress until the end, that means there will be open seats in Districts 15, 16 and 19.  In District 15, the recent custom has been for the incumbents to pick a new candidate to fill out their slate.  (That is a big reason why Miller originally won her seat in 2010.)  The question is whether any new candidate merits such a selection.  A District 16 open seat race is like an Italian Sunday dinner: everyone shows up.  An open seat in 2010 attracted thirteen candidates and an open seat in 2014 attracted eight candidates.  There will be no rest for Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman!  Manno’s Senate seat will draw the interest of at least one Delegate, thereby creating at least one House opening.  There are already three non-incumbents who have filed for the District 19 House seats with more probably on the way.

Add the above to actual or possible races in Council District 3, Legislative District 17 (House and maybe Senate), Legislative District 18 (House and Senate), Legislative District 20 (maybe House) and Legislative District 39 (House) and that makes 2018 the most politically active year in MoCo in decades.  Enjoy folks, and remember to thank John Delaney the next time you see him!

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District 16 Delegate Poll

District 16

A few days ago,  a one of three Democratic primary voter reached out to me to with some mildly interesting news: they had received a live telephone survey testing positive and negative messages regarding Jordan Cooper’s candidacy in the District 16 delegate race.

My educated guess would be that the poll is from Jordan Cooper’s campaign since any other candidate polling would not have focused on him, or at least also asked questions about Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian, Ariana Kelly and Bill Frick.

Except that Jordan Cooper says he did not do the poll. At any rate, it should make him feel good that someone is taking him very seriously. I guess we’ll see when the next campaign finance reports come out.

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Frick Upends D16 Race

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In a surprise just before the filing deadline, Del. Bill Frick (D 16) changed his plans and abandoned his bid for attorney general:

Today I will withdraw my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for State Attorney General and file for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates.

My two terms in the House have been exceptional.  I’ve been a part of a team that has enacted marriage equality for all Maryland couples, repealed the death penalty, protected consumers from abuses, and begun the task of reforming our tax code.

While I know that I could have been a valuable asset to the State as Attorney General, there is still much to be done as a member of the House representing District 16.

Bill was always a long shot for AG. His withdrawal from that race can’t help but aid Sen. Brian Frosh from the same legislative district in his bid to beat Del. Jon Cardin and Del. Aisha Braveboy for the Democratic nomination for AG.

Rumor had it that Bill might retire from politics if he didn’t win election to AG, so the switch to the delegate race is a bit of a double surprise–at least to your gentle correspondent. In this case, a politician staying in office is good news.

Bill is a terrific delegate: smart, effective, and well-liked by his colleagues. He is a shoo-in for reelection to the House of Delegates and I assume he will slate with incumbent Sen. Susan Lee and Del. Ariana Kelly.

In possibly the understatement of the year, Marc Korman, Hrant Jamgochian and Jordan Cooper have to be mighty unhappy tonight. In my recent preview of the D16 race, I gave Marc and Hrant a strong edge to win (though left Jordan in the hunt) and hinted that Susan and Ariana might slate with them.

Bill’s reentry changes that. Only one delegate seat is now open, though all three are up for reelection. Choosing between Marc and Hrant for a slate is not an easy call. We’ll see if the incumbents make a choice or just leave it up to the voters.

If I had to bet, I’d say they do the latter. In Montgomery County, incumbents don’t often slate with non-incumbents, though there are signs that this tradition is falling by the wayside. Neither Marc nor Hrant has such a clear edge that it makes it easy for the incumbents to opt for one over the other.

The D16 race for the third slot just got much more competitive and interesting.

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