- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland State Board of Elections administrator has ordered Baltimore and three counties — Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel — to make plans to fix problems that occurred Tuesday in the primary election, including malfunctioning equipment and polls that opened late.

The administrator, Linda H. Lamone, gave the directive after receiving guidance she requested from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. She issued a letter on Saturday that included a 10-point plan for Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun reported. The plan includes firing election judges who arrive late to polls, a refresher training session for all election judges and clear assignments for each poll worker who meets requirements.

Mrs. Lamone asked Gene M. Raynor, elections director for the Baltimore Board of Elections, to respond to her directive by Wednesday.

She has the same deadline for appearing before a panel of the state’s top officials to explain what went wrong during the primaries. Mrs. Lamone said she wants the four local election boards to pay for the additional training before the Nov. 7 general election.

Major mistakes slowed the elections. Equipment abruptly turned off or was missing, vote totals didn’t arrive on time, and many volunteers didn’t know how to start and operate the state’s electronic-voting system, which was used for the first time.

Circuit judges ordered polls to stay open an extra hour in Baltimore, where many election judges didn’t show up, and in Montgomery County, where human error prevented a crucial electronic component from being delivered to polling stations.

A spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had not reviewed the orders as of Saturday afternoon, but administration spokesman Henry P. Fawell said that “anyone can implement quick fixes, but the jury is still out.”

Mr. Raynor and Baltimore Board of Elections President Armstead B.C. Jones Sr. said Saturday they had not seen the letter. When informed of the details, Mr. Raynor said that he and Mrs. Lamone “were on the same page concerning election judges” and reserved further comment until he received the letter.

Mr. Jones accused Mrs. Lamone of playing a “blame game.” He said rather than an across-the-board policy of firing late poll workers, individual circumstances should be reviewed.

“She needs to stop playing games and be reminded that much of the training is done by Diebold,” the manufacturer of the state’s electronic voting equipment, Mr. Jones said. “She keeps saying to get competent people to do the training. Well, if Diebold isn’t competent, why did she hire them? She keeps pushing all of the weight on the local boards, but she has to take some weight herself.”

Maryland elections are run by 24 boards — representing Baltimore and each of the 23 counties — with a state agency providing oversight. With the election of Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, in 2002, each election board is composed of three Republican and two Democratic appointees.

Mrs. Lamone is a holdover from the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat. Mr. Ehrlich has been rebuffed in his attempts to remove her.

He has asked Mrs. Lamone to appear Wednesday at the state’s Board of Public Works meeting to discuss the primary-day problems. Mr. Fawell said Saturday that Mrs. Lamone had not responded to the request.

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