An election last month in the University of Maryland honors program was declared void after 90 of the 220 ballots cast were found to be fraudulent.

Joe Rensin, former chairman of the student executive council of the university's general honors program, said the election for the council, being conducted by mail-in ballots between March 25 and 29, was canceled after the fraudulent ballots were discovered coming in midway through the voting.

Physics professor John Howarth, director of the honors program -- in which about 1,100 students take a quarter of their course work in special "honors seminars" or in "honors" versions of basic courses -- said the election has been rescheduled for April 22 through 26, and that voting will be conducted in person. Eighteen students are competing for nine spots on the council.

Howarth, who impounded the ballots after fraud was discovered, said he had studied them and found a "definite pattern."

"It's very unfortunate. I'm still very angry about it," Howarth said.

Asked about concerns that the fraud occurred in an election among honors students, he said, "I don't know that one would assume that by being bright, one is necessarily more honest. If one looks around in our political life, there are an awful lot of very bright dishonest people."

He said he would refer any evidence of misconduct to the campus disciplinary body.

Rensin said a secretary collecting ballots became suspicious when she noticed a number of ballots that were not wrinkled, as were most of the mailed ballots.

In addition, said Rensin, 19, a sophomore government and politics major from Silver Spring, the fraudulent ballots had only one set of staple holes, while valid ballots would have been stapled twice, once when they were mailed out to students and again before they were returned.

"Somebody was sloppy about what they did," Rensin said. "We're very upset . . . . We feel we've been kind of stabbed here."