- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he is concerned about Maryland’s new voting system “collapsing” next year due to problems found during testing, but the state’s elections administrator said she was confident in the system, which will have paper ballots as a backup.

The voting system came up unexpectedly at a Board of Public Works meeting, when Treasurer Nancy Kopp, a Democrat and one of three board members, asked how the state will manage voter education and outreach after a nearly $1 million contract was rejected by the board several months ago. Hogan, also a board member, said he was more concerned about the condition of the overall voting system, rather than what he described as a public relations campaign.

“I’m concerned about the entire system collapsing because, as I understand, the tests were sort of a dismal failure, and I think in one county there were 3,000 mistaken votes as I understand it,” said Hogan, a Republican.

Hogan added that experts in the administration’s Department of Information Technology told him they were concerned that the system might not be ready for next year.

“Our experts in information technology said they were concerned that we weren’t prepared and reached out and offered help to you and your operation and you, I think, said you have everything under control, so I don’t know why we’re just talking about public relations when we should be talking about the integrity of the vote in Maryland,” Hogan said.

Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, said some problems were found during testing, and elections officials are working to correct them. Lamone said officials haven’t verified exactly why there was a problem registering about 3,000 votes in Howard County. She said it appears a memory stick that was taken out of a voting unit and put into another device wasn’t recognized when returned to the system, because it apparently sensed there had been tampering.

“Everybody seems to forget that even if the stick got corrupted or somehow stopped collecting votes there’s always the paper ballot,” Lamone said.

Hogan asked if she disagreed with experts in his administration that there are concerns and problems with the system. Lamone replied: “Basically, yes. I think that the system is going to perform as it was certified by the federal government to perform.”

Maryland is moving to a paper-based voting system manufactured by Election Systems & Software. It uses digital technology to tabulate paper ballots. Voters can use a touchscreen interface to mark their ballots or mark ballots by hand. All the ballots are tabulated by a digital scanner.

Maryland’s primary is April 26.

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