As details emerge of the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election, officials in Maryland are working to protect the state’s voting system for this year and beyond. State elections officials are working with federal authorities to shore up Maryland’s defenses against tampering with electronic voting systems and electoral rolls. Lawmakers have introduced proposals to fix perceived flaws, audit results more rigorously and to compel greater disclosures about advertising on social media. … Poorvi Vora, a professor of computer science at George Washington University, says Maryland is among the worst of the 50 states in securing absentee ballots. The state allows voters to request absentee ballots through its web site and mark them online before mailing them in. That function is part of the system that allows voters to register online. It’s also the system that hackers probed in August 2016. Charlson said they did not breach it.
Articles about voting issues in Maryland.
Maryland: Hogan to sign Supreme Court brief siding with challengers to Maryland redistricting | Baltimore Sun
Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he will sign a friend-of-the-court brief in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court — joining the side of Republican voters who say Maryland’s congressional district map violated their First Amendment rights. Hogan, a Republican, and former California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, are jointly filing the brief and calling on other current and former governors to join them and oppose what Hogan called “shameful gerrymandering.” “This kind of arrogant behavior and political subterfuge is exactly why the people of Maryland are fed up with politics as usual,” Hogan said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a redistricting measure passed last year could be the subject of an override vote Friday in the state Senate. The legislation would set up a commission to redraw congressional district lines after the federal census is conducted — but only if New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia also adopt similar legislation. Hogan, who has made redistricting reform a priority of his administration, called the measure “a phony bill masquerading as redistricting reform” when he vetoed it last year. “It was nothing more than a political ploy designed with one purpose — to ensure that real redistricting reform would never actually happen in Maryland,” he said.
The Supreme Court said Friday that it will hear a challenge to Maryland’s congressional districts brought by seven Republican voters who say the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights. In a case that has been watched closely by state political leaders and that has already been to the Supreme Court once before, the seven voters will now have an opportunity to bring their novel argument before the justices: that the redistricting amounted to a retaliation against them because of how they voted. The court heard a separate redistricting case in October filed by Wisconsin Democrats over that state’s legislative districts that some believed could have bearing on the Maryland litigation. Taking the second case suggests that redistricting will feature even more prominently during the court’s current term.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he will try again for the fourth consecutive year to make congressional redistricting a nonpartisan process. Hogan, a Republican, said he will submit legislation in the next session to create an independent commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Now, the governor and lawmakers craft them. Hogan has made the reform proposal in each of his three years as governor, but it has not advanced. The governor said reforming the process for drawing the districts for members of Congress and the state legislature is widely supported, by citizens as well as interest groups that care about free and fair elections on both sides of the political aisle.
The Supreme Court announced Friday it will add a second case this term to determine whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, accepting a challenge from Maryland Republicans who say the state’s dominant Democrats drew a congressional district that violated their rights. The court already has heard a challenge from Wisconsin Democrats, who challenged a legislative redistricting drawn by the state’s Republican leaders. The cases could reshape the way American elections are conducted. The Supreme Court has never thrown out a state’s redistricting efforts due to partisan gerrymandering, and political parties consider drawing the map one of the perks of being in charge of state government.
Maryland: AG’s office argues against Supreme Court review of 6th District gerrymandering claim | Frederick News-Post
Maryland’s attorney general is asking the Supreme Court to reject the appeal of 6th District Republicans challenging the state’s congressional district map. In a filing last week, Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) asked the Supreme Court to affirm a U.S. District Court decision not to impose a preliminary injunction that would have required a new statewide map before the 2018 election. A three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore ruled in August that the need for the “extraordinary remedy” of a preliminary injunction had not yet been proved by the plaintiffs. The judges also issued a “stay” in the case, postponing further filings until the Supreme Court’s decision on a different gerrymandering case from Wisconsin.
Maryland: Baltimore County orders extra voting scanners, but not as many as elections officials say are needed | Baltimore Sun
Baltimore County is ordering extra ballot scanning machines for four dozen of the county’s busiest polling locations — far fewer than the 200-plus scanners sought by county elections officials. Rob Stradling, the county’s information technology director, said Tuesday that paying for 47 scanners for polling sites and five backup locations represents a “fiscally responsible” solution to easing lengthy backups that frustrated voters during the 2016 election. Stradling said the additional machines and other changes — such as having existing machines serviced, having manufacturer representatives on hand on Election Day and tweaking training for election judges — should make the voting process more efficient. His office spent five months researching the problem and posted its findings online Tuesday. But the county’s top elections official had sought much more. Director of Elections Katie Brown has previously asked the county to purchase a second ballot scanner for each of its 236 polling precincts. Only one precinct had two scanners in 2016.
Maryland legislators learned last week the state’s electronic balloting system may need better security measures to protect voters’ information and that the lawmakers must be the ones to add those protections. The state’s electoral board told lawmakers Sept. 6 that they are powerless to make those changes, and that any security changes must come directly from the legislative body. Last year, the state’s Board of Elections voted 4-1 to certify a new system for online ballots, even though experts in cybersecurity and computer science publicly objected. While nearly all states have a system in place for signature verification, the General Assembly did not vote last year on the topic so there was no verification system in place, leaving Maryland as the only state in the nation without one, according to a report last year by Capital News Service.
It turns out that the city of College Park did not have enough votes after all to grant voting rights to noncitizens, officials said Saturday. The College Park City Council voted 4-3 with one member abstaining Tuesday night on an amendment to the city’s charter that would allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. But charter amendments need six votes of the eight-member council, the city announced Saturday. That rule was changed in June, and the mayor and council members said they neglected to note that they needed six votes.