New Absentee Ballot Approach Raises Concerns and Process Improvements

Security concerns associated with legislation that passed during the 2013 session to improve access to voting was debated during a recent forum held by the Maryland League of Women Voters. The legislation would expand the number of early voting locations in some jurisdictions and days/hours of operation, provide for voter registration during early voting, and improve access to absentee ballots.

Under the new legislation, all Marylanders will be able to request absentee ballots, mark them with an online marking tool, and send them back to a local board of elections. Some panelists raised concerns with security measures being put in place to review ballots, while others spoke of the improvements to the voting process. As reported by

Cyber-security hawks like Rebecca Wilson of SAVE our Votes said  Maryland has no process for examining voter’s handwritten signatures that are  required for all the new potential mailed in absentee ballots.

“Maryland is moving increasingly to vote by mail,” Wilson said.  “How does the [election official] know the person on the computer is the real  voter?”

Del. Jon Cardin, chairman of House election law subcommittee, and a panelist at  the forum, said election officials are required to physically compare the ballot  completed on the computer to the final mailed-in ballot.

“Creating the most open, fair, free, transparent, safe and convenient elections  as possible, is what all eligible voters deserve”, Cardin said. “We live in a  rapidly changing world. We need somebody who is going to think about staying two  steps ahead of the issues with the law . . . [while] using technology to our  advantage because it is not going away.”

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