Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Primary Election Woes

Maryland elections officials testified before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee Tuesday to address concerns over problems experienced during the April 26 primary elections. Officials from Baltimore City and Montgomery County joined State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone in assessing the primary elections and examining ways to improve the process before the general election in November.

Baltimore City’s elections chief, Armstead Jones, testified that the city is hamstrung by an insufficient number of and inadequate training of election day judges. Chairwoman Lamone pledged to help the city in efforts to recruit new election judges and improve election judge training.

Montgomery County officials testified that they experienced problems with defective ballot scanners at several polling places, resulting in delays and concerns by voters over whether their ballot would be counted. The local elections board is asking for $221,000 so that it can lease 158 new scanners to serve as back-ups at each polling place.

Chairwoman Lamone stated that 13 out of 2,207 ballot scanners had to be replaced on primary election day. She said that providing each polling place across the state with at least two ballot scanners would cost around $4 million, a figure which she said may be unfeasible.

State legislators also expressed concerns over provisional ballots, which are ballots used to record a vote when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility, specifically regarding the way that they were stored and counted. Lamone testified that provisional ballots are indeed an issue of concern, and that she is hosting a panel of elections directors from across the state to develop protocols on how to best handle the ballots.

The State Board of Elections promised to work with local governments and help them to prepare for the general election in November.

For more on local election news, visit the MACo elections page.