- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Maryland voters touched computer screens to select primary candidates at the polls yesterday.

Except for scattered glitches attributed to human error, the new voting machines performed very well, elections officials said.

“They’re doing great. Our election directors are happy,” said Linda H. Lamone, administrator of the State Board of Elections. “The [voter] turnout seems to be a little light, but that may be because of the rain.”

Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Republican state Sen. E.J. Pipkin won their parties’ primaries, setting up a contest between two Baltimore natives with working-class roots and activist reputations.

Mr. Pipkin, 47, a freshman legislator with deep pockets but scant statewide exposure, promised an issues-oriented campaign focused on jobs, affordable health care and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. He said he supports school vouchers, the war in Iraq and gun owners’ rights.

“It’s time we had someone more in tune with the 21st century and beyond, and it’s time for a change,” he said.

Speaking to about 150 supporters in Annapolis with Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at his side, Mr. Pipkin said: “Gov. Ehrlich has brought change to Annapolis. I will bring change to Washington.”

Miss Mikulski, 67, speaking at a victory party in Baltimore, said that if elected to a fourth term, she would work to improve education, save the Social Security system and stem “the hemorrhage of jobs to foreign countries.”

“I’m going to go back to the United States Senate to keep the jobs we have and to create jobs for the future,” she said.

With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Miss Mikulski had 90 percent of the Democratic vote, compared with 7 percent for A. Robert Kaufman and 3 percent for Sid Altman.

Mr. Pipkin, who represents four upper Eastern Shore counties in Annapolis, had 51 percent of the Republican vote, also with 66 percent of precincts reporting. John Stafford, his closest competitor in the field of nine, had 10 percent.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn was renominated for his 4th Congressional District seat against fellow Democrats Glen Clark of Fort Washington, Mignon Davis of Laytonsville and George E. McDermott of Forest Heights.

John McKinnnis of Burtonsville won the Republican primary in the 4th District, defeating five other candidates.

In the 6th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett turned back a challenge by Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle.

Seven candidates were on the ballot for the Democratic nomination in the 6th District.

Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. won the Democratic primary for his 8th District seat, beating Deborah A. Vollmer of Chevy Chase and Lih Young of Rockville.

Chuck Floyd of Kensington will face Mr. Van Hollen in November. He defeated Steve Rosen of Gaithersburg and Robin Ficker of Bethesda in the Republican primary.

Mrs. Lamone had predicted about 35 percent of the state’s 2.4 million registered voters would take part in the primary elections.

By midafternoon, about 11 percent of eligible voters in Prince George’s County had made it to the polls — a typical turnout for that time of day, said Alisha Alexander, assistant administrator of Board of Elections.

Officials said people at polling places in Annapolis, Takoma Park and Baltimore County had to vote using pencil and paper after officials received the wrong encoders — devices used to tell ballot-access cards, which voters insert into the machines, what ballot to display.

Results from Howard County were expected to be delayed because of a problem with the transfer of information from precincts to the elections office, elections director Robert Antonetti Sr. said.

Voters in 19 Maryland counties used the Diebold AccuVote-TS machines for the first time. In 2002, it was used, without much criticism, in Allegany, Dorchester, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

But TrueVoteMD, a nonprofit group that opposes computerized voting, said it had received scores of telephone calls complaining about the new polling machines.

Jim McElhatton contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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