Maryland officials to review vote problems
State election officials say they will review problems that frustrated voters at many polling places during Tuesday’s presidential election.
Some voters experienced long lines, delayed openings and power outages on Election Day. In Baltimore, the polling place at Beth Am Synagogue opened 45 minutes late after a judge stormed out, leaving the site short-staffed. In Baltimore County, voters in some precincts said they faced waits of more than two hours.
Officials will analyze data from across the state to determine the causes behind long lines and delays, state elections administrator Linda H. Lamone said Wednesday.
The state has begun to gather information about how the system worked, Lamone said, but won’t focus on the full analysis until after they finish counting all election ballots.
“Once we analyze this information, we will develop recommendations for future elections,” she said in a statement.
Maryland returned to paper ballots this year after several years of touchscreen voting machines. Voters filled in circles on ballots indicating their choices — as in a standardized test — then fed the ballots into a scanning machine.
The paper ballots were retained in the event they were needed for a recount or a contested result.
A common frustration voiced by voters Tuesday was the number of machines to scan the ballots. Most polling sites were issued one machine, causing bottlenecks that added to the time it took to vote. In some cases, the machines broke or malfunctioned.
Some 2,200 ballot scanners were used statewide. Lamone said problems were not widespread.
“Initial reports show that less than 10 scanners statewide were replaced, and there were reports of less than 20 scanners with ballot jams,” she said.
Election officials declined further comment.
Lamone offered no timeline for the review. The first canvass of absentee ballots is scheduled for today, followed by a canvass of provisional ballots Nov. 16 and a second canvass of absentee ballots Nov. 18.
More than1.5 million Maryland voters cast ballots Tuesday, according to the state. Another 1.1 million voters voted early or requested absentee ballots. Election officials predicted turnout would surpass that of the 2012 presidential election.
The state has hired a private firm to conduct a post-election audit of votes cast in the election. Clear Ballot of Boston is scheduled to complete the audit by Nov. 18, when local election boards must certify the election results.