But, most striking of all, there are new votes which have been unearthed from the 9/12 primary:
In Montgomery and Prince George's counties yesterday, election officials continued to count the thousands of paper provisional ballots that could determine the outcome of the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary race between incumbent U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn and challenger Donna Edwards. Prince George's officials yesterday cracked opened 26 machines and retrieved votes that had not been counted.
In the days since then, [Prince George's election officials] have also discovered that dozens of memory cards were not counted after the election; some remained locked in voting machines for days.This is in addition to the mysterious truck which showed up at the Board of Elections on the evening after the primary. The article doesn't state whether or not these are additional votes from MD-04, but this is just the latest in a pattern of incompetence and carelessness by those who run and organize elections state-wide.
Yesterday, county election officials began opening selected machines to locate the missing cards and capture the voting information contained on them.
Back to Ehrlich and paper ballots:
Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the governor's top priority was to replace the electronic poll books, used to check in voters. But he said Ehrlich "is also interested in moving voters to a paper ballot for this year's general election."
"He realizes it's a tall order," Fawell said. But moving to paper ballots would "eliminate the chronic problems that electronic voting machines demonstrated [Sept. 12] with respect to crashing and susceptibility to tampering."
As was noted here previously, an earlier MD bill which would have mandated optical scanners and paper ballots passed the Maryland House. However, it later died in the Senate, as you'll read below.
Linda Lamone, the state elections board head, was the architect of the electronic poll books.
According to VoteTrust, Miller and his fellow Senate Committee members (with Lamone's backing):
...voted to use the money intended for accurate, auditable, and accessible equipment and spend it on electronic poll books instead and they're using inflated prices to defeat the move to paper ballots.
A House Delegate was even quoted as saying that Lamone was "trying anything she can to sabotage this bill." Lamone is the ex-President of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). (She's currently an adviser to NASED, which is responsible for selecting the "independent" testing authorities whose task it is to scrutinize voting systems for federal certification.) Lamone and her peers at NASED have a history of scoffing at (or lying about) all debate regarding the integrity of voting machines and particularly the necessity of voter-verified paper trails. Back in 2002, Lamone allowed four counties to use Diebold voting machines despite the systems not being certified. (The machines would only be certified a year and a half later, though certification is rather meaningless when the testing practices are suspect.)
Lamone said just this past August:
"I think the system is fabulous...It's probably the most secure system in the country."
According to the Gazette:
When Ehrlich became governor in 2002, the Democratic legislature changed the rules even further -- now Linda Lamone can only be removed by an 80 percent supermajority of the full elections board and even when removed she keeps her job until her successor is approved (if ever) by the state Senate, controlled by Democrats!...and given Lamone's close relationship with Mike Miller, Lamone will be that Democrat. Indeed, back in 2004, an attempt to remove Lamone was tried and later overturned by a circuit court judge.
In other words, at the prospect of a GOP governor the Democrats installed a Democratic elections-administrator for life.
As for the MD legislative action earlier in the year:
The amended bill, reported by the Ways and Means Committee, passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 137-0 on March 7, 2006, five weeks before the end of the 2006 session. It was hailed by VVPBAT supporters for its detailed language and high standards for both security and transparency.When in doubt, grease a few palms and go on a PR blitz. It's the 21st century's version of leadership. Unfortunately, its the voters of Maryland who are getting the shaft as they face voter suppression via election-day chaos and, as has been reported, having to vote on pieces of scrap paper. Is this what you call progress?
The House-adopted bill was immediately referred to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs (ESE) committee, chaired by Senator Paula Hollinger. Prior to holding a hearing on HB 244, Senator Hollinger invited Diebold to demonstrate its newest paperless voting machine, the TSx. No other vendors were invited to the demonstration.
During the session, Diebold was hardly a silent voice in Annapolis. They hired a former staffer for Senate President Miller as a lobbyist, and a former Mikulski staff person to be their P.R. person. The Elections Administrator has been in Annapolis for many years and is said to have close ties to Senate President Mike Miller. This trio spread rumors around the state about the alleged inaccuracy of optical scanners.
Thanks Linda! Thanks Mike! Thanks Paula! Thanks to all of you who have turned our state into one synonymous with Ohio and Florida in terms of election fiascos. You're really doing a heck of a job!
Update [2006-9-21 0:35:55 by jorndorff]: More on the newly-discovered votes here and here. Jonathan Shurberg, an attorney for Edwards, said that the news "makes me sick to my stomach" and that "I don't have any confidence that there is an accurate vote count going on."
Antonetti said the votes that were being counted Wednesday were in machines that were left at various precincts primary election night. They could not be retrieved at the time, because the buildings they were in were locked. The machines were returned to the election board's warehouse in Upper Marlboro throughout the week, even as complaints about a variety of problems with the balloting mounted. As workers opened the cases holding the machines yesterday, they showed the candidates and reporters the untouched tamper tape, which is supposed to assure the board that the machines have not been disturbed. But some candidates were hearing about the voting machines for the first time on Wednesday morning.