« Maryland Election 2010: Turnout reports | Main | Social media and the 2010 Maryland election »

November 2, 2010

Maryland election 2010: Some issues with BaltCo voting machines emerge

Two voting machines at a Parkville precinct were shut down for less than an hour on Election Day morning when three voters trying to choose Republican Baltimore County executive candidate Kenneth C. Holt found the machine was not recording their votes correctly, Arthur Hirsch reports.

UPDATE 6:00 P.M.: The state Republican party send out a news release this afternoon which says about 30 voters have reported similar concerns in more than a dozen counties.

The glitch on the two machines at Pine Grove Middle School was one of a few isolated cases of touch-screen machines not giving voters the choice they wanted, said Katie Brown, director of the county Board of Elections. Brown said she knew of the incident at Pine Grove and two other polling places.

She said the trouble may have been caused by an error in setting up the touch–sensitive screen to record the correct choice. She said it also could be “a matter of the angle of the screen.”

She said election officials are urging voters to review their votes after they have finished making their choices and before they hit the button to cast their ballot.

David Glassman and Joy Rickels, chief judges at Pine Grove, said one voter complained that their choice for Holt instead registered as a “write-in,” and two others said their Holt choice registered as votes for his Democratic opponent, Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. The judges said the problems were corrected and no votes were lost in those three instances.

The machines were shut down for less than an hour at about 11 a.m., Rickels said, then put back into service.

It was not clear if other voters may have made similar errors and not noticed it.

Holt said he’d heard about the problems, and he's been pleased with the Board of Elections’ response.

“They responded quickly and well,” said Holt. “There have not been any widespread concerns.”

He said his own campaign manager, Norman Sines, noticed the trouble during early voting, when twice he tried to vote for Holt and twice the machine registered the choice for Kamenetz. On the third try, the machine recorded the correct vote.

Miriam Barr had to watch her vote carefully, Liz Kay reports, after she had trouble voting at Timonium Elementary Tuesday morning.

At about 10 a.m., she was standing at a machine near the school stage and had successfully chosen her candidate for governor and lieutenant governor. But when Barr, 83, tried to select a senator, Barbara Mikulski’s name popped up.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “It always reverted back to my opposition.”
After three tries to correct it, Barr raised her hand and an election worker came to help. “She tried it, it did the same thing,” Barr said. “She called a couple of people but they never came over.”

The election judge was able to clear the problem by only reverting to the original ballot. Barr was more vigilant at checking her selections that time, and was ultimately able to submit her ballot.

“I checked every one of my votes before I left the machine,” she said. “It took me longer than anyone else but I made sure my votes were right.”

Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the state board of elections, added a few other possible explanations for the problem.

People with long fingernails trying to use the pad of their fingers to select their candidates sometimes inadvertently touch the box above with their nail first, he said. Voters with this problem can just use their fingernails or even the back of a pencil or a pen to hit the correct spot. But Barr said her nails are very short. “I can’t get them to grow,” she said.

Machines also get out of calibration, Goldstein said. If election judges could duplicate the problem, they are supposed to shut down the machine and not let others use it. “The calibration is usually pretty good,” he said. Every unit is tested for both calibration and correct ballot counting before Election Day, he said.

“Generally speaking, if a machine is out of calibration, it’s going to be like that for everybody,” Goldstein said.

Barr said she told the poll worker who took her card that the machine was malfunctioning, and he said he would keep an eye on it. “I’ve never had that happen to me — not in the primaries, not last year,” she said.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:01 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010


I must say I'm deeply disappointed in what I'm seeing in this country. On one hand, I'm happy to see people engaged in the political process. On the other hand, I'm sad to see how negative things have turned out. I can say, with relative certainty, that NO ONE was this up in arms about George W. Bush and his Republican chronies sending valuable troops into harms way based on lies. Yet, we averted the greatest financial collapse that would have destroyed this country and so many people are up in arms. If I had to draw a conclusion, from the evidence provided, I'd conclude that America is uncomfortable with who's in charge, not what he's done. I've heard, you better watch what you ask for, because you just might get it! Republicans have been masters at drawing support from the very people they'll turn their backs on. I hope those of you with limited education and no money will make it through with the party you all want. You'll need every penny! Good luck!

Wow, you really sound stupid!

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):


Headlines from The Baltimore Sun
About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Breaking News newsletter
When a big news event breaks, we'll e-mail you the basics with links to up-to-date details.
Sign up

Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected