Washington County plans public meeting on voting irregularities

November 27, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Two Washington County polling places did not open on time in 2006, and some residents had concerns about casting their votes electronically.

A voting task force wants to hear this type of information and more during a public meeting Dec. 4 in Hagerstown. The public is invited to speak to members of the task force to share their experiences and any problems they had when voting in the 2006 primary and general elections, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said.

The group will report the information to legislative leaders next year, spokeswoman Raquel Guillory said. The task force was created earlier this year by Gansler, and the Hagerstown meeting will be the group's third public hearing.

Dorothy Kaetzel, Washington County Board of Elections director, said area residents had few problems casting their votes in 2006.

"We had a few polling places not open at 7 a.m.," she said.


Those locations opened about 7:15 a.m. after fixing some problems with their electronic poll books, which have the names of all eligible voters. Washington County has 50 voting districts and 49 polling places, Kaetzel said.

"We were brand new using electronic poll books," she said. "That was brand new for the elections of 2006. They had some trouble getting them up and ready to roll."

She said opening the polls even a few minutes late is unacceptable when voters are waiting outside.

While there was not a strong backlash in Washington County, Kaetzel said many residents across the state are opposed to casting their votes electronically.

"They don't want to use the electronic voting machine," she said. "They want to vote on a paper ballot."

Kaetzel said local election officials are hoping to correct any problems through training.

"That's what the task force is coming for ... to hear about any problems," she said. "So they can be corrected for 2008."

If you go

What: Public meeting of the task force on voting irregularities

When: Dec. 4, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Kepler Theater, Hagerstown Community College

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