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Maryland Voting machine battle continues

October 17, 2004|By WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

TrueVoteMD, an election integrity group opposing the state's electronic touch-screen voting machines, is fighting the state's decision to not grant poll-watching credentials to group members for the Nov. 2 election.

"Electronic voting machines are vulnerable to human error and tampering," said Linda Schade, co-founder of the Tacoma Park, Md.-based group of approximately 3,000 members. "We're hoping to educate voters and document the problems that people have."

TrueVoteMD attorneys will meet with state election officials at a hearing Friday to try and resolve the dispute around the group's request to have poll watchers on duty at the upcoming election, Schade said.

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"Due to litigation, the role TrueVoteMD will play in the November election is undetermined," said Donna Duncan, director of the state's election management division.

In September, a Maryland appeals court ruled against a preliminary injunction, filed by TrueVoteMD, to institute a policy requiring an additional paper printout to verify ballots on paperless electronic voting machines. Schade said the injunction was part of a lawsuit brought by her organization following voter concerns in Maryland and across the nation.

"There have been numerous complaints about poll workers not being able to turn voting machines on, names missing from the list of candidates and problems linked to the machines' ability to count votes," she said.

Linda Lamone, the state's administrator of elections, said the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County found the state's electronic touch-screen voting system to be secure and accurate.

"Her (Schade) allegations have been litigated and found to be unfounded," she said.

The ruling, issued by Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Manck, was a victory for Lamone, a defendant in the lawsuit.

"The Court of Appeals of Maryland also affirmed the decision," Lamone said in a phone interview from her Baltimore office.

Meanwhile, since the summer, Lamone said her office has sponsored aggressive voter education and voter demonstration campaigns across the state.

"Maryland counties will also be mailing out a specimen ballot that shows the election date, where voters should go to vote, what candidates are included on the ballot and instructions on how to use the machine," Lamone said.

According to Maryland law, a specimen ballot is a sample ballot mailed only to voters who are registered to vote in an upcoming election.

Schade said she applauds the idea, which she thinks may safeguard against some concerns raised by TrueVoteMD.

Lamone said Maryland voters can expect a specimen ballot in their mailboxes prior to the Nov. 2 election.

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