Glenarden Town Council member Robert M. Blue said that he was outside a polling place on May 6 during town elections when he saw former state senator Tommie Broadwater arrive and go inside.
He didn't give it a thought, Blue said yesterday, until later that day when he found out that he had lost his reelection bid by a vote of 187 to 186 against newcomer Viveca Jones. The one-vote margin, he said, raised questions among his supporters and started people wondering exactly what Broadwater, a convicted felon, was doing at a polling place on election day.
Blue demanded a recount the next day and Glenarden officials now are asking a Prince George's County Circuit Court judge to decide whether elections laws were broken when Broadwater, who served 4 1/2 months in prison last year for a food-stamp fraud conviction, was allowed to vote.
Iris McConnell, the chairman of the town's board of elections, said that although Broadwater's name was purged from federal, state and county election rolls, she is unsure whether Broadwater is eligible to vote in municipal elections.
Broadwater said that he voted on May 6 because he understood there would be no problem.
"I went up and voted and had a good time with everybody there," Broadwater said yesterday. Asked if he thought he was eligible to vote, Broadwater replied, "As far as I knew, I was."
Broadwater, who served in the Maryland Senate from 1975 until his conviction, said he even had been approached to run for mayor.
Blue, 55, the incumbent council member in Broadwater's Ward 3, lost to Jones, a 29-year-old challenger who listed her occupation in election records as a data technician. A third candidate, Jean Eason, 51, won easily with nearly 80 votes more than either Blue or Jones.
Jones declined comment on the election results yesterday. Blue said he "didn't pay it any mind" when it appeared that Broadwater had voted. But when his wife and others suggested that he get a recount, he concluded that, "since it came down that way . . . I might as well take advantage of the situation."
McConnell said that local and state election laws appear ambiguous on the subject. She said the town is seeking a court ruling to protect itself from future legal action by either of the candidates based on the outcome of any new election. Circuit Court Judge Robert S. Woods was scheduled to hear the town's case today.
Robert Antonetti, who is head of the county board of election supervisors, said that Glenarden, which is one of several county municipalities that maintains its own eligible voter list, apparently did not remove Broadwater's name from the registration list.
"If their charter is silent on whether a convicted felon can vote , it should revert to state law and he should be removed," Antonetti said. "We should remove anyone convicted of a felony."
Antonetti said that the town may have to hold another election to determine who the seventh member of the town council should be. That could be done on June 3, the date of a runoff election scheduled for the mayor's race between incumbent Stanley Brown and challenger James Fletcher.
Elections officials also are questioning the validity of a vote cast by a man who is not legally a Glenarden resident.
Because the ballots were confidential, elections officials do not know if Jones or Blue would benefit if the votes are disqualified.