Election director confirms details about county voter were referred to state prosecutor

Aug. 20—Frederick County Election Director Barbara Wagner on Friday confirmed that the county Board of Elections voted unanimously earlier this week to refer information about a voter to the Office of the State Prosecutor.

Wagner did not identify the voter or what jurisdiction they voted in. She said the person cast a ballot in this year's primary.

The Office of the State Prosecutor is responsible for investigating and prosecuting state election law violations.

The confirmation comes one day after Frederick County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Deborah Carter announced that she had "credible information" that the board referred a County Council District 3 ballot to the state prosecutor's office. Carter did not say where her information came from.

But she and other members of the central committee cited the information as part of the reason Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer should be the party's nominee for the District 3 general election in November.

Keegan-Ayer lost the primary to challenger Jazmin Di Cola by a single vote. But a judge later disqualified Di Cola, after a lawsuit from Keegan-Ayer alleged Di Cola did not live in District 3.

The Frederick County Charter says candidates must live in the district they're seeking to represent for at least a year prior to election or appointment.

Di Cola's disqualification meant the central committee had to choose a replacement. The committee asked for applicants. Keegan-Ayer did not automatically advance to the general election.

In her lawsuit, Keegan-Ayer argued that Di Cola's vote — which she acknowledged she cast for herself — should be thrown out, since Di Cola was living in Council District 1, not District 3.

Di Cola voted at Monocacy Middle School on July 19, she testified at a court hearing Aug. 12. That would have been her polling place had she still been living in her old house, but she had moved out more than a month earlier.

Di Cola signed her voting authority card with her old address. She testified that she didn't pay attention to the address on the card when she signed it and said the election judge who checked her in did not ask her what her address was.

If Di Cola's vote were nullified — something Frederick County Board of Elections attorney Daniel Loftus said the board does not have the power to do — the race between Keegan-Ayer and Di Cola would have been a tie.

And in the case of a tied primary, state law says the local party central committee must choose one of the two tied candidates to advance to the general.

In other words, since Di Cola had been disqualified, a tie would have meant the central committee had no choice but to give the nomination to Keegan-Ayer, Carter said.

The committee voted 6-5 to give Keegan-Ayer the nomination Thursday night. Five votes were for Tarolyn Thrasher.

There were no votes for Yewande A. Oladeinde, the third applicant for the vacancy.

State Prosecutor Charlton Howard said in an interview Friday that his office does not comment on the existence or status of any investigations or complaints, unless charges are filed.

Howard said his office "looks at the circumstances and the individual's intent" when investigating allegations, including allegations of voter fraud or election law violation.

The Frederick County Board of Elections voted on the referral during a closed portion of its Wednesday meeting, Wagner said.

A letter to the State Prosecutor describing the circumstances was finalized Friday, she added.

Carter said Friday that she had finalized the paperwork to make Keegan-Ayer's nomination official.

Keegan-Ayer had to submit a form, too, Carter said, and it had to be filed in person. But since Keegan-Ayer is attending the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City, officials set up a "satellite office" for her there, Carter said.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek