xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

In reporting election results, accuracy trumps speed [Commentary]

In reporting election results, accuracy trumps speed [Commentary]

Simply put, a computer hiccup is the apparent cause of a delay in the display of Howard County's preliminary primary results on the state's official election website.

The late April glitch touched off questions about the accuracy of the count during a contentious school board race when a new paper ballot system was used for the first time.

Advertisement

Elections officials were quick to investigate what one labeled "a perceived election snafu" and said the voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, is doing the same.

This problem appears to be on the reporting, not counting, end of the process – and Howard's administration of elections has been solid for many years.

Advertisement

Confidence in the integrity of the vote count is essential.

Ever since computerized voting systems were pressed into service decades ago, there have been fears of fraud, of hacking and manipulation.

In one case that left elections officials in neighboring Carroll County red-faced some 30 years ago, the heavily favored incumbent in a school board contest finished dead last and a novice outsider won in a landslide. A recount was ordered and it was determined that the wrong counting software was loaded in the since-replaced punch card system. In the end, the results were flipped, the incumbent returned to office.

Enough irregularities were pointed out in Baltimore City's primary this spring that the state elections board had to step in, determining about 1,700 ballots were improperly handled.

Human nature virtually assures there can be mistakes in any system and computerization introduces layers of complexity to the process. Maryland's lawmakers have called for a better "paper trail" for years and the new paper ballot system, which replaced touch-screen computers, performed well. Of the more than 4,200 new voting stations rolled out statewide, fewer than 20 pieces of equipment were faulty.

Howard's election judges are planning ways to make the vote count smoother in November's general election and expedite the release of results – and there should be confidence they will deliver.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement