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Maryland: TrueVoteMD Reports Problems on Election Day PDF  | Print |  Email
By TrueVoteMD   
November 07, 2006

Major Screen Malfunction Confuses Voters Statewide

TrueVoteMD operated its Election Day Hotline and fielded at least 75 incidents of machine malfunctions, check-in problems and major delays across the State.

Vote Switching/Screen Mis-calibrations


Screens have been malfunctioning all over the State, where voters cannot select the candidate of their choice because either the check box is not available, or the screen does not allow them to select the candidate at all. Several voters complained that it took more than 3 tries to get the machine to work properly, resulting in major delays. Only one report has come in that indicates that a malfunctioning machine may have been removed from service.

Maryland: Polling Places Report Some Problems PDF  | Print |  Email
By WTOP   
November 07, 2006

WTOP reports:


Voting problems occurred at one Annapolis polling place Monday, and emergency ballots had to be used for a while. Some voters left before voting. At Cape St. Claire Elementary School, election judges accidentally turned off the machines by using the the wrong key card, according to James Praley, a Board of Elections attorney.

He says a supervisor's card was used to print results and it turned the machines off shortly after 7 a.m. By 7:45 a.m. technicians had fixed the problem. Election officials are urging those who left to come back and vote.

In Montgomery County, election officials say it's not a problem, but a number of voting machines, including those at Temple Emmanuel in Kensington, are running on batteries. Power cords are en route, Marjorie Roher, an administration specialist with the Montgomery County Board of Elections, told WTOP at 8:30 a.m.

Baltimore County Election Director Jackie McDaniel tells WBAL Radio that some precincts have reported not receiving equipment and a few are reporting that their electronic voter check-in books are not working properly and voters have had to use provisional ballots. According to McDaniel, technical people are being dispatched to check on the equipment, but in at least one case the problem was that it wasn't turned on. And she says some poll workers who reported missing equipment didn't look in the correct place.

Settlement Reached To Protect Maryland Voters PDF  | Print |  Email
By The Advancement Project   
October 31, 2006

Advancement Project and Project Vote reached a settlement agreement with the Maryland State Board of Elections to protect the voting rights of voter registration applicants who have been classified as "pending" because their identification number did not produce an exact match against the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration or Social Security Administration database.

Dealing With Failure PDF  | Print |  Email
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
October 16, 2006

This article appeared on Avi Rubin's Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


An important sub-area of Computer Science is fault tolerance. In a nutshell, fault tolerance is the ability of a system to continue to function in spite of a failure of one or more of its components. A system that can continue to work even if many parts fail in unexpected ways is said to be more fault tolerant than one that does not.


It seems to me that one of the unheralded problems with the Diebold system, and with DREs in general is that it is extremely fault in-tolerant. Consider a few simple examples from the September 12 Maryland primary:
• In Prince George's County memory cards were accidentally left in the voting machines, causing votes not to be counted initially, and at the very least losing track of the chain of custody of those votes. 
Maryland: Diebold E-Poll Book Modifications Come Into Question PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon,   
October 15, 2006

Diebold's new ExpressPoll 2000/4000 electronic poll book failed miserably in the September Maryland primary election. The poll book is separate from the Diebold TS voting machines used in the state. It contains all of the information on registered voters that was contained in the old paper poll books and it is used to check in voters. The failure of the e-poll books in Maryland, as well as the manner in which the problems have been “fixed” raises serious concern about whether they can legally be used in November’s elections.


According to the Associated Press a software patch produced by Diebold fixed one problem that plagued the equipment in Maryland's primary. Another problem, reported by the Baltimore Sun (article in archives) required a software patch that was produced by a Diebold sub-contractor, Advantech Co., Ltd., who was responsible for the e-poll books "losing synch".

Maryland: Election Board Response To Primary Problems Is Inadequate PDF  | Print |  Email
By SAVE Our Votes   
September 25, 2006

Election Integrity Group Releases Its Own 9-Point Plan to Address Issues Overlooked by Elections Administrator’s Proposal  


Download SAVE Our Votes Report and Recommendations


SAVE Our Votes, a non-partisan voting rights organization, today criticized State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone’s analysis of the problems that marred Maryland’s Primary Election, saying that her proposed solutions fail to address many serious issues.

In a letter to the State Board of Elections in advance of its meeting on Tuesday, the group called for nine measures to help remedy problems encountered in the September 12 election.

“The best way to prevent the serious problems that occurred in the Primary Election is to set aside the touch-screen voting machines and use optically scanned paper ballots in the November General Election,” said founding member Robert Ferraro. "However, if the precarious touch-screen system will be used again, it would be irresponsible not to institute these nine simple measures."

Paper Ballots Are the Way To Go in Maryland PDF  | Print |  Email
By Mary Howe Kiraly   
September 24, 2006

The following editorial appeared in The Washington Post on September 24, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s call for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to provide voters with a paper ballot for the Nov. 7 general election is not as unrealistic a proposal as it might appear.


Yes, we are less than seven weeks away from the election. But Maryland counties already have optical-scan machines that they use to count absentee and provisional ballots, and the counties may be able to lease more of them. If they can't lease more by Nov. 7, the election results would be slower coming in, but at least there would be paper ballots to recount if the outcome is disputed.


Right now, Montgomery County is counting approximately 12,000 provisional ballots from the turbulent Sept. 12 primary. It is a slow process, in part because many precincts ran out of the official provisional ballots and had to improvise. It is also a demonstration of how an open voting process should function: Its citizens are involved, the vote count is open to observation, and there is a paper record of the ballots to review.

Washington Post: Ehrlich Wants Paper Ballots For November Vote PDF  | Print |  Email
By Christian Davenport and Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post Staff Writers   
September 21, 2006

This article was published in The Washington Post on September 21, 2006.


A week after the primary election was plagued by human error and technical glitches, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) called yesterday for the state to scrap its $106 million electronic voting apparatus and revert to a paper ballot system for the November election.


"When in doubt, go paper, go low-tech," he said.


Linda H. Lamone, the administrator of the Maryland State Board of Elections, quickly denounced the plan to swap voting systems just seven weeks before the general election as "crazy." And Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said it "cannot happen. It will not happen."


Ehrlich said that, if necessary, he would call a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to change the law to allow paper ballots. But Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) dismissed the idea of a special session, saying elections officials should focus instead on fixing the current system.

Maryland: Report from Prince George County PDF  | Print |  Email
By A.C. Tanner   
September 16, 2006

As Alastair Farrugia, a mathematician at the Univ. of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, reminds us, "Liberty is when the people are free to speak, but democracy is when the government listens." 


A.C. Tanner served as a chief election judge in Prince George County, Maryland in the primary election on September 12, 2006. He has given permission to post the following comments. 


First, I am extremely proud of the outstanding performance of my 5 election judges, under changing conditions and unusual circumstances. To me this proves that it is possible to run an election and run it well with volunteers with a keen sense of citizenship and civic duty. And if we value our democracy, we will all continue to insist that volunteers and not professionals or contract personnel continue to conduct the elections at the polling places. 

Second, the State Board of Elections should be very careful of casting stones at county boards and their staff.  All the instructional materials provided to us, with the exception of the last minute sheet from the county, was prepared by the State BOE.  And it was a mess. The manual given to me at the county BOE training was bound, but missing several chapters. Some of these missing chapters were stapled together and handed out as a supplement. We were told that one of the chapters was out of date, and we would receive an update in the mail, which we did. All of the materials were riddled with typographical and formatting errors, and editorial notes such as "place information for chief judges here." The section on electronic poll books assumed that we would use a printer, and to my knowledge, Prince George's county had no such printers. The electronic poll book usage seems to have been a true fiasco, and the blame for that lies squarely on the State BOE and its director, Linda Lamone, who spent the money that the Governor allocated for optical scan machines on these poll books, which caused nothing but problems for judges.

My Day at the Polls - Maryland Primary '06 PDF  | Print |  Email
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
September 13, 2006

This article appeared on Avi Rubin's Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.


I don't know where to start. This primary today is the third election that I have worked as an election judge. The last two elections were in 2004, and I was in a small precinct in Timonium, MD. This time, I was in my home precinct about 1/2 a mile from my house. We had 12 machines, over 1,000 voters and 16 judges. I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and was at the precinct before 6:00. It is now 10:18 pm, and I just got home a few minutes ago. As I have made it my custom, I sat down right away to write about my experience while everything was still fresh. In anticipation of this, I took some careful notes throughout the day.

The biggest change over the 2004 election was the introduction of electronic poll books that we used to check in voters. I was introduced to these in election judge training a few weeks ago. These are basically little touchscreen computers that are connected to an Ethernet hub. They each contain a full database of the registered voters in the county, and information about whether or not each voter has already voted, in addition to all of the voter registration information. The system is designed so that the machines constantly sync with each other so that if a voter signs in on one of them and then goes to another one, that voter will already be flagged as having voted. That was the theory anyway. These poll books turned out to be a disaster, but more on that later.

Around 7:15, when we had been open for business for 15 minutes already, a gentlemen shows up saying that he is a judge from another precinct nearby and that they did not receive any smartcards, so that they could not operate their election. We had 60 smartcards, and the chief judge suggested that we give them 20 so that they could at least get their election started. As she was handing them over, I suggested that we had to somehow verify his claim. After all, anyone could walk in off the street and claim this guy's story, and we would give them 20 access cards. The chief judge agreed with me. The guy pulled out his driver's license to prove who he was, but I told him that we were not doubting who he was, we just wanted to verify that we should give him the cards. He seemed to understand that. After calling the board of elections, we were told to give him the cards and we did. A little later, several voters who came in informed us that news reports were saying that in Montgomery county, there was a widespread problem of missing smatcards. I could only imagine what a nightmare that was for those poll workers because as it was, our precinct did not have this problem, and as you'll see, it was still tough going.

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