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City to Send Letter on Irregularities at College Park Polling Station

At last night’s Council meeting, the City Council approved sending a letter to the Prince George’s County Board of Elections regarding the following issues that took place at Ritchie Coliseum polling place at the recent primary election.

  • Official communications on the delayed opening of the Ritchie Coliseum polling place were limited.
    • Residents were primarily informed of the delayed opening after they entered the polling location, by word-of-mouth from community members outside the polls, or through neighborhood listservs. The unofficial communication channels on delayed poll openings could create an opportunity for fraud and electioneering that must be avoided.
    • Estimates on when the polls would officially open were not coordinated appropriately. For example, at 9:15am the limited in-person election officials on-site estimated an opening of “10:15am” while the Prince George’s County Board of Elections communicated an opening of “9:30am”. The 10:15am estimate led to a group of voters waiting outside Ritchie Coliseum to
      leave.
  • Clear communications on alternative voting options were not provided.
    • Voters were not provided clear communication on alternate options to casting a vote at Ritchie Coliseum (e.g., casting a provisional ballot at an alternate polling place). This created uncertainty and confusion that could have led to certain voters not participating in the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election.
  • Polling place availability throughout the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election Day from 7am to 8pm is critical for an equitable and inclusive voting system.
    • The delayed opening eliminated voting options at Ritchie Coliseum from 7am to 9:30am, which is a critical time period for individuals to cast their vote prior to work. Flexibility to vote at an alternate time is a privilege that not all voters are able to achieve due to work, family commitments, and other constraints.
    • Accommodations to extend voting hours beyond 8pm were not granted.
  • Appropriate communications for assigned poll workers must be achieved to ensure proper staffing during election day.
    • It is our understanding that staffing of poll workers was a potential contributor to the delayed opening of Ritchie Coliseum for the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election.
    • “Election judge Demetra Hutchinson said that several poll workers, including a chief election judge, assigned to the Ritchie Coliseum did not show up on Tuesday morning…” – Washington Post 7/19/2022
    • A College Park resident communicated that they were proactively selected as a poll judge but were not given contact information to decline the selection. The individual stated they had not volunteered for the 2022 Gubernatorial Primary Election but had served during the 2020 election. Prior to election day, the individual called the Prince George’s County Election Board to indicate they were unavailable
    • Other polling places also experienced delays in opening and we would request a full investigation and action plan to ensure that these problems are not repeated in November.
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