Mr. Waldman also described the environment in which state agencies, and election workers, perceive- and then attempt to counter- false claims of voter fraud. There has never been documentation of a broad-based effort at voter fraud in the United States; yet states have legislated strident measures to counter this perceived threat. These measures make it increasingly difficult for many qualified voters to cast ballots. In every recent election cycle, in the months from August to October, fears and accusations of "voter fraud" emerge, then disappear immediately after the election.
I bring up the Brennan Center report here in the context of the recent debacle in the Primary Election in Maryland, especially as it unfolded in Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington D.C. Maryland voters use the paperless Diebold AccuVote TS touchscreen voting system statewide.
In the 2006 Maryland Legislative Session, which ended in April, Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich supported leasing an optical scan system to replace paperless Diebold voting. The Maryland House of Delegates, with a large Democratic majority, voted unanimously to provide an optical scan system this fall. However, the Democratic leadership, which controlled the State Senate, declined to implement optical scan voting.
In a sad irony for Maryland voters, the legislation which enacted Early Voting was ruled unconstitutional by a Maryland court this summer. But the Diebold E-Poll Books became an integral part of the Maryland election system. In the Primary in Montgomery County, it was the Board of Election's failure to distribute the smart cards, used with the e-poll books, before the polls opened that morning that began the cascading series of problems that characterized the Primary Election, September 12.
Not only did the smart cards fail to arrive on time; but when they did arrive, the cards often malfunctioned. Repeated efforts, with multiple smart cards, were often necessary to produce a single successful voter check in. At one polling station, a volunteer told me of an instance in which fourteen tries, with fourteen different cards, were necessary for one voter. Adding further to the frustration, some voters reported that when they placed their programmed smart cards in the voting machines, the machines indicated that the voter had already voted! Here we see the Diebold E-Poll Book "creating" the self-perpetuating realization of that dire threat: voter fraud. Could someone get Arthur C. Clarke on the phone, please? I believe that voting in Maryland has entered the realm of science fiction.