Sunday, October 31, 2004

Maryland’s paperless voting system is ready for tomorrow, state election officials say, despite lingering concerns that the all-electronic system still has bugs.

Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s elections administrator, said voters need not worry over the lack of a paper ballot. The state’s 16,000 touch-screen machines, she said, meet the requirements of a new federal election law, and the system is secure.

Residents across the state will vote on nine congressional races with voters in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties also deciding on judges, board of education members and term-limit issues.

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat, is seeking her fourth term and will face Republican challenger E.J. Pipkin.

A poll by Ipsos-Public Affairs of Washington shows Miss Mikulski leading Mr. Pipkin 66 percent to 29 percent. Miss Mikulski, 68, has widespread name recognition and a 70 percent approval rating, according to poll results.

Mr. Pipkin, 48, a self-made millionaire with a blue-collar background, is spending heavily on an advertising campaign. Miss Mikulski’s lead is no surprise because Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in the state.

Other congressional races in the metropolitan area include U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen against Republican challenger Chuck Floyd in the 8th Congressional District.

Mr. Floyd, 54, a retired military officer, says Mr. Van Hollen, 45, a first-term Democrat, has done little to help the district during his two years in Congress.

Mr. Van Hollen has accused the Floyd campaign of “sleazy politics” in buying Internet domains based on Mr. Van Hollen’s name, then using them to attack his opponent.

Lih Young, a longtime political activist, is running as a write-in Democrat.

In the 4th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn, another Democratic incumbent, said his mission in Congress is to expand economic opportunity in his district and throughout the country.

Mr. Wynn was elected to Congress in 1992 and serves on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee. Much of his work in Congress has focused on creating economic opportunities for small and minority businesses. He served in the Maryland General Assembly for 10 years before running for Congress.

John McKinnis, the Republican challenger, says education is his top priority. He supports the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind initiative and thinks it should receive full funding. He also says that Mr. Wynn, as a Democrat in Congress, lacks the clout to bring the educational-reform money to the district.

Theresa Mitchell Dudley, a Green Party candidate, and John B. Kimble, an independent, are also challengers in the 4th District race.

Republican Brad Jewitt will challenge U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic incumbent, in the 5th Congressional District.

Mr. Hoyer was elected to Congress in 1981. He was selected by party members in 2002 as House Democratic whip, the second-ranking position among House Democrats.

The position also makes him the state’s highest-ranking member of Congress.

Mr. Jewitt is a former mayor of Berwyn Heights who has spent more than 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He has asked voters to look at issues instead of voting on Mr. Hoyer’s name recognition. Mr. Jewitt has based his campaign on improving the economy, creating jobs, homeland security, a strong national defense system and better transportation.

Bob S. Auerbach, a Green Party candidate, and Steve Krukar, a Constitution Party candidate, are also in the race.

Montgomery County voters also will elect three members to the board of education. Board President Sharon W. Cox is being challenged by Tomme Le for the at-large seat. Board member Walter N. Lange faces Stephen Abrams for the District 2 seat. Silver Spring residents Valerie Ervin and Sheldon Fishman face each other for the District 4 seat.

Voters will be able to choose four out of the five candidates on the ballot for circuit court judge: Marielsa Bernard, David Boynton, Daniel Patrick Connell, Dennis Michael McHugh and Katherine Savage are running for the judicial positions in Circuit 6. Joseph F. Murphy Jr. is running unopposed for his at-large seat in the Court of Special Appeals. Voters will mark “Yes” or “No” for Mr. Murphy to continue in office.

Residents also will vote on property-tax limits, term limits for the county executive and county council members and whether to eliminate at-large seats on the council.

In Prince George’s County, three candidates — Graydon S. McKee III, William D. Missouri and Cathy H. Serrette — are on the ballot for three open seats on the 7th Circuit Court. In the special election for the County Council District 2 seat, Republican Tommy Priestly, an Ohio State student, faces Democrat Will Campos.

The seat became open when Council member Peter A. Shapiro resigned in July 17. Voters also will decide five bond issues, term limits for county council members and adding two at-large members to the County Council.

• Reporter Gary Emerling and wire service reports contributed to this story.

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