Early Voting Starts Today; Officials Stress Secure Vote Count

Friday, October 22, 2010
Robert Lang

Deputy State Elections Administrator Ross Goldstein says early voting will remain the same as what occurred before last month’s primary.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Audrey Scott was worried when state elections officials announced plans to count the early voting balloting before Election Day.

Early voting starts across Maryland today.

Voters will be able to cast ballots at 47 different locations whoich will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day through Thursday of next week.

There will be no early voting on Sunday.

Early voting made its debut last month, in a six day period in advance of the primary election.

Officials say only about 3% of eligible voters cast ballots during the early voting period.

Last month, WBAL News found that most people casting ballots on the first day of early voting were either candidates for office, or campaign volunteers who say they were working at polling places on Election Day.

By state law, there are five early voting centers in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. There are three in Howard County. There is one early voting center in each of the remaining 18 counties.

The Maryland State Board of Elections abandoned plans to allow county officials to count the results of the ballots tabulated during early voting before Election Day.

Deputy administrator Ross Goldstein says the proposed regulations did not get the approval of the required legislative committee.

Goldstein told WBAL News that county officials will count the ballots from the six days of early voting at 2 p.m. on Election Day November 2. Goldstein says the results will be placed in a secure server, and the results will not be released until after polls close at 8 p.m. on November 2.

Republican officials were concerned that an early vote count might be released to candidates and that would give the candidate a competitive advantage on Election Day.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Audrey Scott told WBAL News that she is still concerned about the security of the vote results.

She did say that officials of the state board of elections have taken steps to address her concerns.

“There’s no absolutes, so the concerns still exist,” Scott told WBAL News.

Governor Martin O’Malley, who has supported early voting, plans to cast his ballot this afternoon in Baltimore City.

Former Governor Bob Ehrlich opposed early voting when he was in office, but has encouraged his supporters to cast ballots early if they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day.

A spokesman said he was not sure when Ehrlich would cast his ballot.

www.WBAL.COM

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