E-voting smooth in Md.

Electronic voting in Maryland, one of the few states to be exclusively using touch screen machines, appeared to be running smoothly Tuesday, with mechanical hiccups and small confusions quickly dealt with by polling officials.

In both Prince George's and Montgomery counties, machines at several polling places wouldn't start immediately Tuesday morning, but on-site technicians managed the problems.

"We did have one machine freeze up this morning, but otherwise they're working well," said Linda Grandville, Democratic chief judge representing the Maryland Board of Elections at the Flower Hill Elementary School in Gaithersburg. On the problematic machine, election officials switched the voter to another machine to start over, Grandville said.

In some cases, at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Md., election officials did not properly wipe the smart cards that are used to activate the machine with the voter's information before reusing the cards. That results in the machine rejecting the voter, but polling officials resolved the situation, said Bill Grenoble, an electrical engineer serving as a poll watcher for advocacy group TrueVoteMD.

However, education and training for polling officials seemed to be an issue in other places in Maryland. In Frederick County, officials were not able to consistently answer voter questions about how the touch screen machines worked and at least one poll worker was pushing buttons for an elderly voter, which is illegal, said Maine Rheingold, a poll watcher for TrueVoteMD at the William R. Calley Recreation Center.

Beyond the security and audit concerns that have led to legal challenges nationwide, officials have cited training and education as one of the primary barriers to effective e-voting implementation.

In Washington, D.C., optical scan voting has been the main way to vote since 2002, when punch cards were replaced. With an optical scan ballot, voters fill out a form by hand and then feed the form into a scanner, which logs the vote.

But this year, working with a limited budget, D.C. officials also placed a single touch screen machine in each precinct, giving voters another option. In several cases, including at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Northwest D.C., caused backups as voters didn't realize there was only one machine. However, the process went smoothly and polling workers said they hope there will be funding for more touch screen machines for future elections.


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