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General News

The Long Week Marches On

By Mary Howe Kiraly, voting activist  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Voting activists in Maryland wait anxiously to see
whether any legislation, giving voters a paper ballot
this fall, will pass in the State Senate. It has been
another roller coaster week in Annapolis. Paper
ballot legislation has support from the Governor, the
House of Delegates, the New York Times, the Washington
Post, and MoveOn.org. Major publications, in other
states, are getting ahead of the action and
congratulating Maryland on its courageous decision to
discard its pricey touchscreen system. But it cannot
budge one long-term Committee Chairwoman whose name is
on the Senate bill.

It is now three weeks since the House of Delegates
passed legislation to lease optical scan for the fall.
The legislation languishes in the Senate. News
reports indicate that the Committee Chairwoman is
convinced that optical scan is a flawed system,
unacceptable for statewide use. The Crossover date-
the last day when new legislation, passed in one
house, could be sent to the other- has come and gone.
Worst, the House version of the legislation must pass
the Senate by April 1, to be implemented this year.

Activists, far from despondent, continue to regroup
and seek new ways to leverage grassroot support for a
paper ballot. A Discharge Petition, to move the House
bill to the Senate Floor, circumventing the Committee,
appeared as an option- then evaporated.

It was hinted that the Chairwoman would introduce a
universal mail in ballot for fall. Activists busily
researched the Oregon experience and offered auditing
language. The Committee Chairwoman remained
non-committal. Thursday, universal mail in language
appeared in the legislation, amending the House bill.
Still the Committee failed to vote.

Elections Administrator Lamone moved like a shadow on
the periphery. New options emerged, Diebold options,
to muddy the waters. If activists wanted paper
ballots, the state could go from Diebold TS to the
TSX- for $80 million. When the Governor backed up his
support for optical scan with the funding allocation,
the Legislature redirected the funds to Diebold Poll
Books, sought by the State Board of Elections. The
Governor added more funds. The Committee failed to
react.

All eyes remain on a Committee Chairwoman, preparing
to run for the U.S. Congress. She seems to be in no
hurry to guarantee that her six-person primary race
will be secured by a paper record of the vote-
available for a recount.

What does that tell us?

Mary Howe Kiraly is a voting activist, working in the trenches of Maryland. She can be reached at mhowekiraly@yahoo.com

 

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