Agencies Differ on Readiness of New Paper-Ballot Voting System

Maryland’s Department of Information Technology expressed concerns last week that the new paper-ballot voting system may not be successfully implemented for the 2016 election cycle.

As reported by the Washington Post,

David A. Garcia, secretary for Maryland’s Department of Information Technology, last week expressed “strong concerns” to State Board of Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone about the project’s progress, according to a statement on Friday from the Information Technology department.

Garcia’s chief of staff, Albert Bullock, said in a memo to Garcia this month that the system as it stands “cannot be a success.” He listed seven areas of concern, including incomplete testing, a lack of security verification, mounting problems with hardware and software, and an inability to tabulate votes.

State Board of Elections officials dispute the claims and indicate the system will be ready to go for the April 2016 primary election.

Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator for the State Board of Elections, said the panel strongly supports the new paper-ballot voting machines and looks forward to implementing them for next year’s primary election.

The state has given the machines trial runs over the past several weeks. In October, the state and local election board conducted a statewide mock election, and municipal elections were held this month across the state, including in Rockville and College Park.

“We had a terrific experience,” Charlson said. “Voters adjusted to the change.”

The move from the optical-scan system to a paper-ballot system was approved by the General Assembly in 2007. Funding was not provided in the budget until last fiscal year.

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