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Keyword: board of elections

When and What Will be Canvassed

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 5, the Baltimore County Board of Canvassers will start its canvass of provisional ballots cast in the 2018 Primary Election. At this time, the Board of Canvassers expects to canvass Republican provisional ballots.  The remaining provisional ballots are expected to be counted at a public meeting later this week or the week of July 9, 2018.  

Maryland's election law allows candidates to challenge a decision to count or reject a provisional ballot.  In response to a request from a Democratic candidate for County Executive, the Baltimore County Board of Elections will provide access to the information the office uses to review each provisional ballot application.  This review process will provide the interested campaigns with the information they need to determine what, if any, provisional ballot applications determinations they may want to challenge.  

This review process will start after the Republican provisional ballots have been counted on July 5, 2018.  Two individuals from each Democratic candidate for County Executive may attend this review.  Depending on how many provisional ballot applications the campaigns would like to review, this review may continue into Friday, July 6 and the week of July 9, 2018.  The canvass of the provisional ballot applications under review will occur at the end of the review.   

The mission of the Baltimore County Board of Elections is to conduct fair elections and provide accurate results.  As a result of the increased number of provisional ballots cast in the 2018 Primary Election and the closeness of the Democratic nomination for County Executive, results from this election may take longer than expected but they will be accurate and considered in a way that is fair to all candidates.   

For more information, please contact Baltimore County Board of Elections at 410.887.5700.


Polling Place Changed to Eastern Technical High School Gymnasium

The polling location at Essex Co-Op, 1000 Franklin Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21221 is without power.  There is no estimated time for power restoration.  The Board of Elections has decided to move the primary election voting to Eastern Technical High School - Gymnasium, 1100 Mace Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21221.  Signs will be posted at the Essex Co-Op location directing voters to the new Eastern Technical High School – Gymnasium location.

For more information, please contact Baltimore County Board of Elections at 410.887.5700 or the State Board of Elections at 1.800.222.VOTE (8683).


By Rob O’Connor
Chief Technology Officer
Baltimore County Office of Information Technology

The Office of Information Technology prides itself on its role in making County Government more effective and efficient.  When we were asked to work with the Board of Elections following reports of polling place delays at some voting precincts during the 2016 General Election, we took immediate action. 

A team of Baltimore County process management and technical analysts identified and corrected mechanical issues that were causing completed ballots to misfeed into the ballot scanning machines, particularly at the Edgemere and Rodger’s Forge Elementary precincts. In coordination with the Baltimore County Board of Elections, the County has taken several concrete steps to ensure that voters are not stuck in long lines due to easily remedied technical and training fixes.

The intensive hands-on study, "Evaluating the 2016 Voting Process in Baltimore County," was conducted by business process analysts in the County’s Office of Information Technology’s Operational Excellence division, and it found sources of delay at several polling place stations.

Rather than throwing money blindly at the problem we conducted a comprehensive review and determined that the solution was to make simple changes to the process and training protocols to ensure that voters can move freely through election stations. The County purchased 52 additional scanners to be placed in precincts identified as having higher voter demand than their current scanners can efficiently handle, and to serve as back-up machines.

How the Scanner Delays Were Corrected

Performance issues were identified at the scanning stations, where an excessive number of ballots were returned to the voter with the instructions to reorient the ballot and attempt scanning again. Research revealed two primary contributing factors that could explain those errors, and the project team found that the errors were most likely when both of these factors were present to some degree.​

1. The printing vendor who produces the ballots for the State of Maryland had not received a quality assurance overlay gauge to ensure that the timing marks along the side of the ballots were aligned to the manufacturer’s specifications.  The timing marks are used by the scanner to properly identify ballot orientation and correctly match the voter’s mark on the paper to the proper candidate.  If those marks are misaligned, the scanner cannot accurately record votes, so the ballot is returned to the voter.

Solution: The scanner manufacturer provided the needed overlays to the print vendor to be used to periodically check sample ballots during printing.

2. The scanner has plastic guides on either side of its lens to ensure the ballot is inserted at the proper angle.  If the ballot is inserted askew, the timing marks will not be properly read, and the ballot will be returned to the voter.

Solution: The manufacturer created a quality assurance gauge to ensure proper alignment of those guides.  All future scanners produced by the manufacturer have utilized that gauge during manufacturing, and poorly performing scanners were inspected to correct any improperly aligned guide pieces.

Our team further concluded that the scanner’s voter protection prompts may confuse voters in certain situations. They worked with the County Board of Elections to specifically train election judges to better prepare voters, as well as training elections staff when and how to contact their supervisors for rapid scanner support or replacement.

Additional Testing Shows Scanners Working Well

After the above actions were taken, our project team retested eight of the scanners that had the most errors during the 2016 election using test ballots for the 2018 primary. These ballots were printed by the state ballot vendor using the same quality assurance process used for the live ballots voters will use. The test consisted of scanning more than 300 ballots with each scanner.  During that test phase, zero errors occurred. This exceptionally positive test result has made the project team hopeful that, during the 2018 election cycle, voters will experience significantly fewer errors than during the 2016 election.

Further Tests Planned for Primary Election Cycle

During the primary election, the project team will coordinate a time study that will be facilitated by chief judges at every polling place in the County. This study will identify when delays occur, and hopefully provide insight as to the cause of those delays. If further action is required between the primary and general elections, the project team with have the ability to make those improvements.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017