Local election officials are already expressing uncertainty about what could go wrong when the state switches from an electronic voting system to using paper ballots in the next two years. By the 2016 presidential elections the state will replace touch-screen machines and make a fundamental shift to the way voters cast ballots. “This is a big transition for us,” said Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Alysoun McLaughlin. “Everything from set up, to warehouses, to the voting experience is based around touch screen [voting] machines.” McLaughlin attended a demonstration last week in Baltimore where Dominion Voting Systems showcased a paper ballot scanning unit to local elections officials that the state will consider purchasing for use in 2016. … State election officials would not provide an estimate of the cost to transition the state to the new paper voting system. Instead, the state board referred to a 2010 study conducted for the state by RTI International which estimated that initial implementation would cost approximately $37 million. The initial implementation costs would include optical scan voting units, ballot marking devices for the disabled, ballot on demand printers and booths and carts.
In addition, staff from the Department of Legislative Services, using the RTI study, estimates it will cost $5 million to $6 million annually to service each election. Because of off-year municipal elections, either a primary election or general election takes place each fiscal year in Maryland.
According to Foster, the Dominion voting machines retail for $7,000 for a larger unit, that is certified to accommodate a disabled voter, and $3,000 for the smaller unit, which is not. Once other vendors receive certification from the state, their models can be demonstrated.
Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to request funding for the new paper ballot voting system in his 2015 budget, which will be presented to the General Assembly in early January. “We expect to kick the tires of every system several times before the state makes a decision,” McLaughlin said