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Ballot Stuffing

Back in the Saddle

Posted 8/6/2003

Earlier this summer, Michael Seipp looked like a strong contender in the 11th District City Council race, where Seipp and a slew of other challengers are looking to unseat incumbent Keiffer Mitchell. Then, in mid-July, Seipp was thrown off his horse. He missed a July 10 financial-disclosure filing deadline and was summarily deleted from the ballot by the city Board of Elections as a result. Now, having taken his case to the courts, Seipp has been restored to the ballot by the Maryland Court of Appeals. "We never stopped campaigning," Seipp says of his two-week disqualification. "The negative side is that campaign workers got demoralized or just plain confused, so there was not quite the same level of enthusiasm that had been there. But as soon as the decision came out, it picked right up again. So it was not a great situation--but it's certainly a situation that favored the incumbent."

Seipp, a Democrat, has decades of experience working for both public and private community-level housing initiatives, giving him deep roots to match his sophistication as a policy wonk and his pleasant, knowing nature. Whether he has the legs to outrun Mitchell--whose last name guarantees a good chunk of the 11th District's support, given his family's long legacy in politics and civil rights--remains to be seen. It couldn't have helped Seipp to suffer for weeks from an ambiguous status as a candidate due to the procedural technicality.

One other candidate--Democrat Eric Easton--is sure to be happy about Seipp's return. Easton is hoping that the Seipp will help further split the vote among the five candidates from the district's more prosperous neighborhoods, which have histories of high voter turnouts, leaving him to mop up votes in the neglected poorer wards. Without Seipp, the strategy seemed a bit quixotic, but with Seipp bound to draw a good measure of what would otherwise be Mitchell's votes, Easton may have a chance yet.

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