Mary­land of­fi­cials to re­view vote prob­lems

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Pamela Wood The Associated Press con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

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.

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