Friday, May 9, 2008


Election Officials Dealing With Ballot Error

Montgomery County election officials were reprogramming voting machines yesterday after failing to include the party affiliation of candidates on the ballot for next Tuesday's special election in County Council District 4.

Two candidates -- Republican Mark D. Fennel, a marketing analyst, and Democrat Don Praisner, a retired CIA analyst -- are competing to fill the seat left open by the death of Praisner's wife, Marilyn, who represented the eastern county for 17 years.

Margaret Jurgensen, director of the Boards of Elections, said officials learned of the mistake yesterday and, in addition to adjusting the machines, had decided to manually type in the party affiliations on about 5,000 provisional ballots. The board also is sending letters to the district's roughly 100,000 registered voters to alert them to the error on their sample ballots and remind them of the special election.

Jurgensen said the mistake could have a silver lining. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of attention to this election," she said. "Anything we do will probably help improve turnout."

-- Ann E. Marimow

Teachers Association Takes No Side on Slots

The Montgomery County teachers association said yesterday that it is taking a neutral position on a referendum on legalizing slot machine gambling in the state, a victory for opponents of the proposal because slots are being promoted as a way to finance public education.

Representatives of the Montgomery County Education Association, which represents 12,000 teachers, went on record Wednesday night as being neutral on slots. They broke with the Maryland State Teachers Association, which supports amending the state constitution to allow slots.

Tom Israel, executive director of the Montgomery association, said the membership is split on the proposal.

Voters will be asked in November whether the state should legalize as many as 15,000 slot machines at five racetracks and other locations, in Baltimore and in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties.

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