Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called the election process “rigged,” but Frederick County and Maryland officials assure voters the state’s new balloting system is secure.
“Simply put, Maryland’s election systems are secure, have built-in redundancies, and have been subject to security testing,” the state board posted in the “Rumor Control” portion of its website.
Across Maryland, voters who choose to vote on Election Day will mark their paper ballots by hand. Those paper ballots are fed into an optical scan machine that counts the votes and collects the paper ballots.
A switch to paper ballots in Maryland has been underway since 2007, when legislation was passed requiring a verifiable paper record for every voter.
The new ballots were unveiled this year after the state was able to fully fund the transition from touch screens of the past.
Pamela Smith, president of the non-partisan, nonprofit organization Verified Voting, said Maryland’s decision to switch to paper ballots was a beneficial one.
Verified Voting supports bills and regulations that promote the accuracy and transparency of elections. According to their data, the majority of the country will use paper ballots on Election Day.
“Anyplace that you’ve got paper ballots, you’ve got kind of better security than in places where you don’t, so Maryland is in a better place today because of the shift,” Smith said.
Paper is straightforward, reliable and can be easily recounted, she noted, while more advanced ballot technologies can be subject to glitches.
With paper, she said, “even if your scanner should break down on Election Day, you still have a way for people to vote.”
But cybersecurity threats are still an issue, Smith said, despite the move to paper ballots.
In September, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security offered to help state and local election boards assess their voting systems for security and reliability.
Smith said 30 states have agreed to accept this assistance, though the Department of Homeland Security has not disclosed which states it’s helping.
Nikki Charlson, deputy administrator for the Maryland Board of Elections, sent The Frederick News-Post a statement in response to questions about the assistance the Department of Homeland Security offered.
“The State Board of Elections has implemented best practices for information systems and is using all available resources to secure and monitor the agency’s various information systems,” Charlson said in the email. “For security reasons, we will not comment on the specific resources we are using.”
Other vote security measures
Frederick County’s director of elections, Stuart Harvey, has fielded some questions this year about whether Maryland’s voting system is secure.
“I’ve occasionally gotten an inquiry, but no, not an enormous amount,” Harvey said. “You know there always are questions, especially with the new voting system, but I’ve not heard an overwhelming concern by the voters.”
Harvey said the voting system is protected from possible hacking because it is never connected to the internet.
Each ballot scanner has it own encrypted memory device and it is uploaded to a standalone, secure local server.
All votes are also made on paper ballots. Those are stored in a secure location, without identifying information about the voter who cast the ballot, in the event a recount is requested or needed.
Maryland’s voting system is tested by a federally accredited testing laboratory and certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
On Friday, the Frederick County Board of Elections, which is bi-partisan, held a public logic and accuracy demonstration of the voting system.
Election officials across the state test each ballot scanner before each election. They scan pre-voted ballots and compare the results against expected results. If the results match, the unit can be used, according to the state board of elections.
Frederick County’s Board of Elections members asked several questions about vote counting and security during the Friday meeting.
Noreen L. Schultz, Election Deputy Director, said the county makes sure to pair election judges with members of a different political party. If voters require help with their ballots, two judges with different affiliations will offer help to avoid undue influence, she said.
The county also pairs judges who complete the absentee and provisional ballot canvasses according to alternate political offices to ensure nonpartisan scrutiny, Schultz said.
State law also allows parties and candidates to designate poll watchers, or specific individuals who can observe the opening, voting, and closing procedures conducted by Maryland’s election judges, and challenge procedures on Election Day.
The watchers must complete a form and be certified before Election Day.
County Executive Jan Gardner (D) devoted part of her weekly press briefing to assuring voters about the system’s security.
“Nationally, some people have expressed concern that hackers might be able to compromise voting systems or change or alter results,” Gardner said.
“Elections officials in our county, across the state and across our nation, are professional people and they take their job very seriously and they have planned for a secure voting system,” she said.
You have to present a photo id to do pretty much anything in the country. You have to present a photo id to deposit cash into a bank account. You have to present a photo id to receive medical treatment. You have to present a photo id to buy alcohol or tobacco. However, you do not have to present a photo id to vote. This is where the corruption begins.
With the motor voter law and Maryland DMV issuing driver's licenses to illegals, I'll bet you don't even have to be a citizen to register to vote.
jean, do you have any idea of what you are talking about? In order to register, in the State of Maryland you must:
If you are registering for the first time, you should plan on showing “proof of identification” the first time you vote. Proof of identification includes: (1) A current and valid photo identification or (2) A current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that
shows your name and address.
To vote, you are required to give your name, month and day of birth and you must be registered. Then you must sign that you are the person named, before you get a ballot.
Do you really think an illegal immigrant is going to go through this and risk deportation?
"Is it rigged?"
Betteridge's Law of Headlines suggests the answer is no.
Now that MD has put paper ballots back in place I am reassured because we no longer have a system with a major design flaw. Before, when we relied on electronic record only machines, there was no independent record and a recount in case of hacking was impossible, plus the machines were hackable according to independent experts. Now that glaring weakness in the MD system has been fixed.
Stu Harvey and his staff have done an excellent job for years. Thank you, Stu.
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