Today Linda Lamone (State Board of Elections Administrator of Maryland) appeared before the Board of Public Works to talk about Maryland's primary election debacle.
The issue on everyone's mind - What caused the election failures, and who was to blame?
This election was truly a sad litany of one problem after another.
Poll workers did not show up to work, critical election supplies and computer memory cards did not arrive. To make matters worse, there was the sudden wide scale introduction of new and flawed technology (electronic poll books), last minute changes to the ballot, and last minute changes to the law. Top it off with counties being served by election "rovers" hired off the street by temp agencies and the recipe for disaster was complete. If Maryland had purchased optical scanners instead of the electronic poll books - every voter could have voted, no matter what. Read Connecting the Dots for more detailed report.
Maryland's Governor Ehrlich has been critical of Ms. Lamone and her choice of the paperless Diebold touchscreen machines. Governor Ehrlich pointed to problems including maintenance cost increases of 1000% and also to decreasing voter confidence.
Today Lamone was questioned for more than a hour by Governor Ehrlich, Comptroller Schaefer and Treasurer Kopp. She said she didn't want to point fingers. (I wonder why?). She had said in the past that elections in Maryland are decentralized and local boards have the most authority.
"State Election Director Grilled By Ehrlich, Schaefer and Kopp"
WBAL and the AP report
When asked by Comptroller Schaefer who is to blame, she (Lamone) said she was not here to point figures...
Lamone said many of the problems at polling places last week were a result of human error and she said work is being down across the state to make sure it doesn't happen again. Turns out that a new audio has emerged, where to a different audience, Ms. Lamone boasted - "The buck stops here." This audio is from testimony Lamone gave before the Virginia legislature in July 2005.
Testifying about elections in Maryland, Lamone told lawmakers there, "...in Maryland, the authority to run elections is centralized. I am the boss. The buck stops with me. I'm the one who gets in trouble when anything happens. The counties have to use the voting systems that the state selected. They have to follow state procedures."
You can see the actual video footage of Ms. Lamone proudly making this statement to officials in Virginia here at You Tube.
"Maryland will have paper ballots over my dead body."
Ms. Lamone went to Virginia in 2005 to help other election officials oppose voter verified paper ballots.
In July 2005, Ms. Lamone tells Virginia officials: "Maryland will have paper ballots over my dead body." .At the time she was waving one of the thermal paper "ballots" (that are used on touchscreen machines) at the committee and had just finished talking about how "this is what the paper ballot activists want" (I'm paraphrasing). The audio of her full testimony is available here for download
( http://www.cs.duke.edu/~justin/voting/alllamoneva2005.avi )
Download and scan through looking for her waving that piece of paper
around; you've found it.
Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting