Tallying early votes slows election count

State will look at ways to speed up early-vote counting process

September 15, 2010|By DON AINES

Counting the more than 19,000 votes cast in Tuesday's primary election was delayed for about an hour while election workers tallied the 833 ballots cast during early voting, Washington County Election Director Kaye Robucci said Wednesday.

The primary election was the first in which Maryland voters could vote early, and in Washington County that was done from Sept. 3 to 9 at the former PNC Bank building at 128 W. Washington St., Robucci said. The 14 voting machines used during early voting were kept secure from Sept. 9 until the polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, she said.

Members of the county Board of Elections then opened the machines and ran the totals, Robucci said.

"It took about an hour. ... It's a time-consuming process," Robucci said.

The county was required to supply the state Board of Elections with a report on the early-voting numbers before proceeding with the rest of the count, she said.


Counties had the option to begin counting early ballots as early as 2 p.m. Tuesday, but would have had to submit a confidentiality plan to the state for approval, Robucci said. That plan would have had to detail how the results of early voting would be kept confidential until after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

"We chose, this time, to wait until 8 p.m." to start the early-voting count, Robucci said.

The state was about split between counties that submitted confidentiality plans and those that did not, Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the Maryland Board of Elections, said Wednesday. Counties that did not have confidentiality plans for the primary may submit one before the Nov. 2 general election, he said.

"We're going to take a look at it statewide," to see if there are ways to speed up the early-vote counting process, Goldstein said.

A decision to submit the confidentiality plan so that early-voting ballots could be counted earlier would be up to the Board of Elections members, Robucci said.

Even though the early-voting ballots had to be counted first, the first precinct to deliver results to the Washington County Office Building on West Washington Street did not arrive until about 8:50 p.m., about 20 minutes later than usual, Robucci said. The last precinct results did not come in until about 10:45 p.m., which is about normal, she said.

The early-voting period for the Nov. 2 election is Oct. 22 to 28, except for Sunday, Oct. 24, according to the county Board of Elections website. Voting will be at the former PNC Bank building from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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