The following was sent to 7S by Marjorie M. Roher, Public Information Officer of the Montgomery County Board of Elections:
Regarding “A Critical Error in Early Voting”
The Montgomery County Board of Elections would like to take this opportunity to address the concern raised in “A Critical Error in Early Voting.” Mr. Pagnucco’s description of the process that occurs in an early voting center is correct, and the Board appreciates his acknowledgement that the mistakes were honest.
Board staff learned of similar occurrences sporadically in several of the Early Voting Centers. In each case brought to our attention, the voter received the correct ballot prior to scanning and was able to cast his or her vote in the appropriate congressional race. The Election Director immediately contacted each Early Voting Center Manager to reinforce the need for accuracy in ballot distribution, instructed that Check-in Judges be reminded to circle the ballot style number on the Voter Authority Card (VAC) to make it easier to see, and Ballot Judges be reminded to double check the ballot style number on the VAC and ensure that they were issuing the correct ballot to each voter. The design of the ballot issuance tables at each Early Voting Center was reviewed to ensure that the possibility of co-mingling ballot styles was eliminated. Finally, a copy of The Seventh State blog was sent to each Early Voting Election Judge so that they might better understand the perception of the public when these types of errors occur.
All of these measures will assist in keeping errors to a minimum, but we urge voters also to pay attention to the ballot they are issued and, if they think they have the wrong ballot or if they have any other concerns regarding the voting process, speak to an election judge immediately so corrective action may be taken prior to scanning the ballot. This will assist the election judges, who are voters who volunteer to work at election time to assist their neighbors with the voting process.
When the State Board of Elections selected the voting system to be used in 2016, it intended to utilize Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) at all Early Voting Centers. This system would have allowed the Check-in Judge to hand each voter a ballot activation card with a bar code on the top, which would contain the voter’s ballot style and, when inserted in the BMD, cause the correct ballot style to appear on the screen. This would eliminate the need for an election judge to select the correct paper ballot for each voter. Unfortunately, problems with how the BMD screen displayed contests with many names could cause voters to not see all candidates before voting. For that reason, the State Board of Elections determined that the BMDs would only be used in 2016 by those individuals who requested them.
The State Board of Elections has requested the manufacturer of the BMD to modify the device so that all names in a contest would appear on the same screen. We believe that this will be accomplished by 2018 so that all voters choosing to vote during Early Voting would be able to utilize this method, thereby eliminating the need for multiple styles of paper ballots at each location and the possibility of human errors.
The Montgomery County Board of Elections strives to ensure that each voter has a pleasant, efficient, and accurate voting process and we encourage voters to contact us with comments or suggestions for improvement, so that we all can work together to make a good voting experience even better.
Marjorie M. Roher
Public Information Officer
Montgomery County Board of Elections