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Where is the money for voting machines?

ElectionsFinanceExecutive BranchMartin O'Malley

Maryland continues to operate one of the least reliable, least credible election systems in the nation. How so? Because we vote using a paperless election system which fails to allow either for independent recounting or independent auditing. Our touch screen system has no way of uncovering and correcting either errors or fraud. Some day a machine in a Western Maryland precinct will report 100 percent of its votes going to Democrats. Or a Baltimore City machine will give all of its votes to Republican candidates. Everyone will know that these results are incorrect, but there will be no way of correcting them because there will be no paper ballots to recount or audit.

Six years ago, recognizing the hazards of paperless voting, the General Assembly voted to replace this system with one based on voter-marked, voter-verified paper ballots counted by optical scanners in each precinct. Yet we continue to use an unreliable paperless system because Gov. Martin O'Malley has so far failed to include funds for its replacement in his annual budgets. And under the state constitution, the General Assembly is not allowed to add funds to the governor's budget proposal.

Let's hope that the governor, in a supplemental budget, will provide the funds for the optical-scanner-based system the legislature requested six years ago. This would move our election system from its current status as one of the most unreliable in the nation to that of one of the most reliable. This would be a grand legacy for Mr. O'Malley to leave his state as he turns his eyes toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Michael Berla, Columbia

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