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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: voting

Show Airs on Cable Channel 25 and Online

The latest edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” takes on some challenging issues this month, outlining the resources available to help address opioid addiction and prevent suicide. The show also features an interview with Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler, where he  highlights topics of interest to residents including a citizen survey, gun violence and the importance of voting.

What’s Up Doc?  Baltimore County’s top doc, Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch explains why opioid overdose rates are worse than ever and describes the help that is available.

Suicide Can Often be Prevented – Find out about the resources available through the Baltimore County Crisis Response System.         

An Update from Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler – County Executive Mohler highlights topics of interest to residents including a citizen survey, gun violence and the importance of voting.

You can also view the show on the County website’s Hello Baltimore County page. In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25 in Baltimore County, at the following times:

Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m.

Tuesdays: 12 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.

Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.

Thursdays: 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8 p.m.

Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.

Saturdays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.

Sundays: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m.


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.


How and When to Register or Change Polling Place

(Posted at the request of the Baltimore County Board of Elections)

Important deadlines for the upcoming 2018 Gubernatorial Primary Election are approaching. The deadline to register to vote, change party affiliation, update an address, and request an alternate polling place for this election is 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

To vote in the upcoming primary election, Maryland residents who are eligible to vote but are not yet registered – including 17-year-olds who will be 18 years old on or before the November 6 General Election – must register by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.  This is also the last day for registered voters to update their address with their local board of elections or change their party affiliation. 

Baltimore County residents with a Maryland driver’s license or MVA-issued ID may register to vote, change their address, or change their party affiliation online at voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration

Voters and members of the military, their spouses and dependents who are overseas and who do not have a Maryland driver’s license or MVA-issued ID, may also register or change their address or party affiliation online using different identifying information. 

Paper voter registration applications must be hand-delivered or mailed to the Baltimore County Board of Elections, 11112 Gilroy Road, Suite 104, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. A hand-delivered application must be received by the Baltimore County Board of Elections by 9p.m. on June 5, 2018, and a mailed application must be postmarked by June 5, 2018. 

Voter registration applications are available throughout Maryland at the following locations:

  • Division of Rehabilitation Services
  • Local boards of elections
  • Local Department of Social Services offices
  • Marriage license bureaus
  • Motor Vehicle Administration offices
  • Offices on Aging
  • Post offices
  • Public institutions of higher education
  • Public libraries
  • Recruitment offices of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • State Board of Elections
  • State Department of Health offices
  • The MTA Paratransit Certification office

You may also call 1-800-222-8683 to request an application by mail or download and print a voter registration application at: elections.maryland.gov/voter_registration/application.html  

Most of Maryland’s polling places are accessible to voters with disabilities.  An elderly voter or a voter with a disability who is assigned to an inaccessible polling place may ask to be reassigned to an accessible polling place.  This request must be submitted in writing by 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.  The request form is available online at elections.maryland.gov/pdf/request_for_accessible_polling_place.pdf

Voters can also call 1-800-222-8683 to request a form by mail.  On receipt of a timely request, the Baltimore County Board of Elections will review the request and determine whether there is an accessible polling place with the same ballot as the voter’s home precinct and notify the voter of the status of his or her request.  

To verify voter registration status or to find out if an assigned polling place is accessible, voters may visit: voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch.

The 2018 Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, and the General Election is Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Voters can vote in person at the designated early voting center(s) in their county of residence.  Early voting locations and hours and additional election-related dates and information are available at: elections.maryland.gov/voting/early_voting.html

  • Early voting dates:
    • Primary Election – June 14 through June 21
    • General Election – October 25 through November 1

For more information, voters may contact the Baltimore County Board of Election at 410.887.5700 or the State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-VOTE (8683) or visit elections.maryland.gov.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017