City to host voting demonstrations on new ballot system

City election chief says voters should come to a demonstration to test new election equipment.

The Baltimore City Elections Board is giving voters the opportunity to try out the new equipment that will be used in coming elections at eight demonstrations to be held through March.

Board Director Armstead B.C. Jones said the demonstrations of the new marking machines and scanners are intended to cut down on confusion during the primary and general elections next year.

The first workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 6 at John Wesley United Methodist Church at West North Avenue and Bloomingdale Road.

Jones said the new voting procedures will be significantly different from those of previous elections. Voters will use either a paper ballot or a marking device to make their selections, and all ballots must be scanned.

Only marking devices, not paper ballots, will be available during early voting, he said.

"It's important that folk come out and see the system, try it out and get some experience," Jones said.

The state replaced its touch-screen voting system with the new marking devices and scanners this year after lawmakers decided the old system was unreliable and susceptible to fraud. The new system is designed to provide a verifiable paper record.

Criticism of the touch-screen machines flared up again during the 2014 gubernatorial election. Some Republican voters reported the machines "flipped" their votes from then-GOP nominee Larry Hogan to the Democratic candidate, Anthony G. Brown. The state Board of Elections said user errors were most likely to blame.

People who attend the demonstrations will be asked to fill out a survey about the new system.

Demonstrations are scheduled for:

•6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12, James D. Gross Recreation Center, 4600 Lanier Ave.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 18, Edmondson-Westside High School 501 N. Athol Ave.

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 20, Benjamin Franklin High School, 1201 Cambria St.

All other demonstrations are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

Jan. 21, First Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 1142 N. Fulton St.

Feb. 2, Baltimore City Community College, 3100 Towanda Ave.

Feb. 3, St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 4711 Edmondson Ave.

March 19, Paul L. Dunbar High School, 1400 Orleans St.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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