Maryland voters will return to casting ballots on paper starting with the presidential election in 2016, election officials said Thursday, adding it to the long list of states that use paper ballots or a blend of paper and digital formats. On Thursday, state lawmakers were given a sneak peek of the new paper voting machines that will be set up in polling centers for the 2016 election. Officials also briefed the legislators on lessons learned from the last election in November. The state has used digital voting machines for the past decade. “We’re going to have a million more voters in 2016, although we’ve made some changes this additional volume is going to put stress on the administration of elections,” said John Willis, principal investigator for the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy.
… The Maryland Board of Elections’ state administrator, Linda Lamone, said the coming year will be spent preparing polling center volunteers and educating voters. Lamone said the General Assembly was given the go-ahead for the paper system in 2007, but only received funding for the switch last year. The cost to lease the machines alone is roughly $25 million, but that does not include additional costs such as storage and transportation of the units before and on Election Day.
… In an email to the Associated Press, Pamela Smith, president of non-profit Verified Voting, which advocates for accuracy and transparency in elections, said Maryland isn’t the first state to return to paper ballots. “Paper ballots provide a reliable mechanism for the polling place, insofar as when equipment breaks down, voters can still mark those ballots,” she said.