Maryland

Articles about voting issues in Maryland.

Maryland: Maryland was never in play in 2016. The Russians targeted it anyway. | Dana Priest/The Washington Post

Russia’s Twitter campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election in Maryland began in June 2015, 17 months before Election Day, when the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency opened an account it called @BaltimoreOnline and began tweeting about local news events. Its third tweet was a retweet of a WBAL-TV story about a 5-year-old boy who’d shot himself in the foot in an alley on North Mount Street, the same street where 11 blocks away Freddie Gray encountered police who loaded him into a police van for a race across the city that left him fatally injured. The tweet fit neatly into what would become a pattern for Russian activities in Maryland, a solidly Democratic state that hadn’t favored a Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and wasn’t in play in 2016. Yet, the IRA, the Russian troll factory U.S. prosecutors blame for the massive disinformation campaign during the 2016 campaign, devoted enormous attention and preparation to its Maryland campaign, all in a likely effort, experts say, to widen racial divisions and demoralize African American voters.

Full Article: Maryland was never in play in 2016. The Russians targeted it anyway. - The Washington Post.

Maryland: National Federation of the Blind sues State Board of Elections over ballot privacy | Danielle E. Gaines/WTOP

A group of Maryland voters is suing the state of Maryland, alleging that state policies require them to cast a segregated ballot. The National Federation of the Blind, its Maryland affiliate and three blind registered Maryland voters — Marie Cobb, Ruth Sager and Joel Zimba — filed a lawsuit against the Maryland State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges the elections board is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws by maintaining a segregated system of voting that denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and an equal voting experience. At issue are the state’s policies for using ExpressVote ballot-marking devices – which can allow voters who are blind or have motor disabilities to use headphones, magnification, touchscreens and other features to independently cast ballots. The machines do not record votes directly but mark a paper ballot that is printed and scanned. ExpressVote paper ballots are a different size and shape than paper ballots filled out by hand, making those votes cast by Marylanders with disabilities immediately identifiable, advocates say.

Full Article: National Federation of the Blind sues Md. State Board of Elections over ballot privacy | WTOP.

Maryland: Baltimore creates cybersecurity review panel following ransomware attack | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott announced the creation of a Committee on Cybersecurity and Emergency Preparedness on Thursday, as the city works to restore the systems taken down by a debilitating ransomware attack last week. “This cyber attack against Baltimore City government is a crisis of the utmost urgency,” Scott said. “That is why I will convene a select committee, co-chaired by Councilman Eric Costello and Councilman Isaac ‘Yitzy’ Schleifer, to examine the City’s coordination of cybersecurity efforts, including the Administration’s response to the cybersecurity attack and testimony from cybersecurity experts.” A type of ransomware known as “RobinHood” took down several of the city’s services last week, including some of the capabilities of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, and the Department of Finance. The city is also currently unable to send or receive email.

Full Article: Baltimore creates cybersecurity review panel following ransomware attack | TheHill.

Maryland: Hogan, Franchot grill elections director Lamone over delayed release of voting results | Baltimore Sun

Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot on Wednesday grilled the administrator of Maryland’s elections — after problems on Election Day in November caused polls to stay open late and postponed the release of results for hours. The Maryland State Board of Elections did not post election results online on Election Day until after 10 p.m. — two hours after polls were scheduled to close in the state. Hogan said he and many others were frustrated they had had to wait for hours for the results to be announced. “This was a black eye for Maryland around the country,” Franchot told Maryland elections administrator Linda H. Lamone, who appeared before the spending panel. “They were making fun of us on the national television about how bad the Maryland election was being administered,” Hogan said. “You are the Maryland state election administrator.” “Indeed, I am,” replied Lamone, who has served in the role since 1997.

Full Article: Hogan, Franchot grill Maryland elections director Lamone over delayed release of voting results - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: Company with Russian investment no longer owns firm that hosts Maryland election data | Baltimore Sun

new firm has taken ownership of hosting Maryland’s elections data after a federal investigation into the Russian ties of the previous vendor. Maryland elections administrator Linda Lamone said Monday the state will use Intelishift, a Virginia-based data center, and its subsidiary, The Sidus Group, through Dec. 31. The Sidus Group was previously a unit of ByteGrid LLC. The FBI revealed in July that ByteGrid was connected to Vladimir Potanin, a wealthy ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Potanin is an investor in a private equity firm, Altpoint Capital of Greenwich, Connecticut, that bought an ownership stake in ByteGrid in 2011. ByteGrid — through The Sidus Group — hosted Maryland’s online voter services, election-night website and voter registration, candidacy and election management systems.

Full Article: Company with Russian investment no longer owns firm that hosts Maryland election data - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: In census trial, Trump administration tries to show citizenship question would not harm the 2020 count | The Washington Post

Testimony wrapped up Thursday over the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census as government attorneys sought to show it would not harm the accuracy of the count. In the second week of trial at U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, John Abowd, was called to testify by both sides. Abowd, who has testified in similar trials in New York and California, told government lawyers that although the citizenship question would be likely to produce a drop in the initial ­self-response rate and make the count more costly, the undercount could ultimately be mitigated by census enumerators doing a Nonresponse Followup Operation (NRFU). But when questioned by plaintiffs’ lawyers, Abowd said that even if the households that failed to initially respond could ultimately be counted by the NRFU, adding the question would irreparably harm the accuracy of many of those responses. “The increase in cost and the degradation of the data cannot be remediated by NRFU,” he said.

Full Article: In Md. census trial, Trump administration tries to show citizenship question would not harm the 2020 count - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Trial on census citizenship question focuses on disenfranchisement in its first few days | The Washington Post

In a trial that began in Maryland this week over the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, public policy experts, statisticians, immigrant leaders and a former Census Bureau director said the question would likely produce a less accurate count, and lawyers accused the government of conspiring to deny minority groups their equal rights. The trial, which opened Tuesday at U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt, addresses two of seven lawsuits challenging the addition of the question, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced in March. Ross’s announcement, which came days before a deadline to inform Congress about the contents of the decennial census, caused an outcry among statisticians, former Census Bureau directors, civil rights organizations and Democratic lawmakers.

Full Article: Maryland trial on census citizenship question focuses on disenfranchisement in its first few days - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Legislation would allow ‘ranked choice’ voting in Baltimore, a new way of counting ballots | Baltimore Sun

Baltimore could become part of a growing movement that would offer more voters a chance to participate in its Democratic primaries and a new way to determine the winners. The Maryland General Assembly will consider a bill to allow the Baltimore City Council to establish open primary elections, as well as “ranked choice” voting for primary or general elections. Del. Brooke Lierman, a Democrat who represents southeast Baltimore, prefiled the legislation ahead of Wednesday’s start of the 90-day General Assembly session. It would authorize the Baltimore City Council to adopt such voting systems, if a majority of council members want to. “If we had ranked choice voting everywhere, our democracy would look so much better,” Lierman says.

Full Article: Legislation would allow 'ranked choice' voting in Baltimore, a new way of counting ballots - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: Federal team finds no intrusion on Maryland election systems | Associated Press

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security team found no evidence of intrusion on Maryland’s election system after the FBI told state officials that a company hosting certain elections systems had been acquired by a firm partly owned by a Russian oligarch. Still, the state’s elections board announced Thursday it will transition to a new data center “out of an abundance of caution.” The Hunt and Incident Response Team from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was deployed in August to offices in Annapolis, Maryland, at the request of state officials to examine the state’s election infrastructure network enclave, which is hosted and maintained by Annapolis, Maryland-based ByteGrid. “During the course of the on-site engagement, HIRT did not positively identify any threat actor activity on the MDSBE, ByteGrid, or Enclave networks,” concluded the 15-page report released at the elections board’s meeting Thursday.

Full Article: Federal team finds no intrusion on Maryland election systems | The Tribune.

Maryland: Election apparitions: These Maryland ‘ghost’ precincts have no polling places or voters | Baltimore Sun

You may or may not believe in ghosts, but if you live in Maryland, chances are you’ve encountered a few without realizing it. At a Baltimore Orioles game, for example. Or while walking in the city’s Wyman Park Dell, or observing the wildlife at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel. Maybe you’ve driven to the “Jones Thicket Ghost,” named for a road in Dorchester County where it can be found. Maryland has 54 “ghosts” — 51 scattered across ten counties, plus three in Baltimore. Ghost precincts, that is — voting precincts that, on Tuesday, will have no polling places, no election judges and will report no results. This is because these are areas where no voters live. Most of Maryland’s ghost precincts were created as a result of the last redistricting, when political boundaries for legislative, congressional and councilmanic districts were redrawn based on population data from the 2010 U.S. Census. After redistricting, voting precinct boundaries were also re-assessed and, if necessary, redrawn.

Full Article: Election apparitions: These Maryland 'ghost' precincts have no polling places or voters - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: Voters to decide whether to adopt Election Day registration | The Washington Post

Amid heightened conversation across the country about voting rights and who has access to the ballot, Maryland voters are deciding whether to amend the state constitution to allow people to register on Election Day. The Democratic-backed initiative, which was opposed by most Republican lawmakers and has not been endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), is one of two statewide questions on the ballot for the midterm elections. … Maryland already allows residents to register during early voting, which this year ends Thursday, but they cannot do it on Election Day.

Full Article: Voter registration: Maryland ballot questions include casino lockbox, Election-Day voter registration - The Washington Post.

Maryland: In Wake of Russian Meddling, Critics Say Maryland’s Online Ballot System Is Potential Target – NBC4

Requests for absentee ballots are on the rise ahead of the November election — the first general contest since learning of Russian efforts to access voting systems, including those right here in the Washington area. But critics, including a host of computer security experts, say a system designed to make voting easier also makes it more of a target for hackers intending to interfere in U.S. elections. Maryland officials, however, argue those concerns are hypothetical and say they’ve put the necessary safeguards in place. At issue is Maryland’s online ballot delivery system, which allows any voter to request and download an absentee ballot from the internet. Maryland doesn’t allow residents to vote online, so users of this system must mail in their ballots.’ 

Full Article: In Wake of Russian Meddling, Critics Say Maryland's Online Ballot System Is Potential Target - NBC4 Washington.

Maryland: Gerrymandering case is back in court where judges floated an independent mapping commission as a fix | The Washington Post

Federal judges in Maryland floated the idea Thursday of ­taking the state’s congressional voting map out of the hands of political leaders and leaving the drawing of electoral lines to an independent, nonpartisan com­mission. A three-judge panel pressed the attorney general’s office and Republican voters challenging the electoral map about the possibility of settling their long-running case as it arrived back in court for the first time since the Supreme Court declined to immediately review the matter of redrawn maps. The high court in June avoided answering the question of when extreme partisan gerry­mandering is unconstitutional in the Maryland case involving a Democratic-drawn map — and in another from Wisconsin involving a Republican-led effort.

Full Article: Maryland’s gerrymandering case is back in court where judges floated an independent mapping commission as a fix - The Washington Post.

Maryland: Court suggests settlement talks in Maryland congressional redistricting case | Baltimore Sun

A federal court on Thursday suggested settlement discussions be pursued in a case in which Republican voters in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District want to toss out a map they say was unfairly crafted to benefit Democrats. The three-judge panel made the recommendation during a hearing on the case in Baltimore, according to the state attorney general’s office, which is defending the current district boundaries. The options for U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Bredar and two other federal judges could include having a nonpartisan redistricting commission redraw the boundaries, asking lawmakers to redo the map, or preserving the current district lines.

Full Article: Court suggests settlement talks in Maryland congressional redistricting case - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: Questions arise about Russian connection to Maryland election system | WBMA

With the midterm elections just over a month away, there is heightened concern about the security of America’s voting process, following recent revelations by the FBI that a software company — which runs part of Maryland’s voter registration system — was purchased by Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin, believed to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin. “So, the fact that one of his friends, one of his business, wealthy friends, is buying up (a) company that does business with our Board of Election(s) is a matter of major security interest here,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. The company, Bytegrid, is responsible for voter registration, online ballot delivery and unofficial election night results, and while there’s been no evidence of wrongdoing, Cardin says change is needed now.

Full Article: Questions arise about Russian connection to Maryland election system | WBMA.

Maryland: Federal Team Evaluating Election System in Maryland | NBC4 Washington

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security team is in Maryland this week to evaluate the state’s election systems after officials learned last month about a transaction between a venture fund with Russian ties and a company involved in the state’s election infrastructure, Maryland’s elections administrator said Tuesday. The Hunt and Incident Response Team from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is checking to ensure the election systems hosted by ByteGrid remain secure. “They’re evaluating whether or not there’s any issues with ByteGrid,” said Linda Lamone, the state’s elections administrator. Gov. Larry Hogan, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch asked for the technical assistance to evaluate the network last month.

Full Article: Federal Team Evaluating Election System in Maryland - NBC4 Washington.

Maryland: A Russian Oligarch Bought Maryland’s Election Vendor. Now These Senators Are Questioning the Rules | Roll Call

Maryland’s Democratic senators want a Senate committee to require disclosures of foreign investments in U.S. election systems, an alarm bell set off by a Russian oligarch’s connection to their state’s voter registration system. The request to the Rules and Administration Committee comes from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen is also the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The Maryland senators have been alarmed by a Russian oligarch’s investment connection to ByteGrid LLC, which handles the Old Line State’s voter registration database and candidate management operations. “As the Rules Committee prepares to mark up the Secure Elections Act, we respectfully request that you sponsor an amendment requiring that an election infrastructure vendor submit a report to the Chair of the [Election Assistance Commission] and the Secretary of [the Department of Homeland Security] identifying any foreign national that directly or indirectly owns or controls the vendor, as well as any material change in ownership resulting in ownership or control by a foreign national,” Cardin and Van Hollen wrote Monday.

Full Article: A Russian Oligarch Bought Maryland’s Election Vendor. Now These Senators Are Questioning the Rules.

Maryland: Senators seek election probe to look at Russian’s ties to state contractor | Baltimore Sun

Less than three months before early voting begins, Maryland’s U.S. senators have joined the chorus of elected officials warning that the November elections could be threatened by a Russian oligarch’s stake in a firm that manages some of the state’s most critical electoral systems. Maryland has already endured one major election snag this year. Some 80,000 voters were told just before the June 26 primary to cast provisional ballots because their change-of-address requests were flubbed by a faulty computer program. Then FBI agents revealed last month that a contractor that manages many of Maryland’s election systems has ties to Vladimir Potanin, an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. State officials launched a barrage of probes. On Tuesday Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen added to the list of inquiries by asking that a U.S. Treasury Department committee determine whether Potanin’s investment in the state contractor, ByteGrid, poses a national security threat.

Full Article: .

Maryland: Following Maryland revelation, bills would ban election vendors from foreign control | Baltimore Sun

Maryland lawmakers have introduced two U.S. House bills seeking to better safeguard election systems following the disclosure that a state election software vendor had ties to a Russian investor. A measure by Democratic Rep. John Delaney and Republican Rep. Andy Harris would mandate that vendors associated with federal elections be owned and controlled by U.S. companies. The legislation follows last week’s disclosure by state legislative leaders in Annapolis that, without the state’s knowledge, a Russian investor had bought a local software vendor that maintains part of the State Board of Elections’ voter registration system.

Full Article: Following Maryland revelation, bills would ban election vendors from foreign control - Baltimore Sun.

Maryland: Officials: Russian firm used in Maryland election systems | The Washington Post

A vendor that provides key services for Maryland elections has been acquired by a parent company with links to a Russian oligarch, state officials said Friday after a briefing a day earlier from the FBI. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch made the announcement at a news conference in the Maryland State House, a gathering that included staff members of Gov. Larry Hogan. “The FBI conveyed to us that there is no criminal activity that they’ve seen,” Busch said. “They believe that the system that we have has not been breached.” In a letter Friday, Hogan, Busch and Miller asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for technical assistance to evaluate the network used by the elections board.

Full Article: Officials: Russian firm used in Maryland election systems - The Washington Post.