In an era that increasingly relies on paperless technology, Maryland is about to revert to using old-fashioned pen and paper to elect its leaders. The Board of Public Works is expected to approve a $28 million contract Wednesday to replace Maryland’s touch-screen voting system with machines that scan paper ballots, which voters will mark with a pen or pencil. The contract comes more than seven years after the legislature decided the state should replace tens of thousands of touch screens deemed unreliable and susceptible to fraud. Since then, arguments and tough budget times have repeatedly delayed efforts to replace the machines with a system that has a verifiable paper record. “We, for a generation of elections, have had no paper trail,” said Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat and a leading proponent of scrapping the touch-screen system. The new system is expected to be in place for the 2016 presidential election.
… The state spent $65 million in 2002 to buy its electronic machines from Diebold Inc., but it wasn’t long before a bipartisan coalition began complaining. Glitches, particularly in the electronic poll books, plagued the 2006 primary election and led state leaders to urge voters to cast paper absentee ballots instead.
… “This is long overdue,” House Minority Leader Nic Kipke said Tuesday of the new machines. “It’s something that the legislature has been asking for at least six years. A paper-verified voter system is essential to restore voter integrity to the system and reduce the errors that we saw in the last election.”
… For advocates though, the vote represents the culmination of a long fight. Susan Greenhalgh, election specialist for the Verified Voting advocacy group, praised the General Assembly decision to require new voting machines. “It should give Marylanders more trust in the integrity of the system,” she said.
Full Article: New voting machines finally on horizon – Baltimore Sun.