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David Trone sues Maryland over ballot issue

David Trone
David Trone

A Democratic congressional candidate in Maryland sued the state on Friday in an effort to halt the printing of early voting ballots, citing concerns that the design could harm candidates running throughout the state.

David Trone, a wealthy Montgomery County businessman running in the competitive 8th Congressional District primary, filed a temporary restraining order in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court against the Maryland State Board of Elections, seeking that it hold off on weekend plans to print ballots.

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State election officials have wrestled with a touch-screen voting system that they initially wanted to use for early voting because the screen cannot accommodate the long roster of candidates running in some contests. That meant voters would have been required to flip to a second page to select a candidate whose name fell later in alphabetical order -- a potential disadvantage.

In February, election officials announced they would work around the problem by using paper ballots for most people; however, some disabled voters would continue to use the machines.

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The different treatment is what caught Trone's attention.

Mary Werden, a Trone spokeswoman, said the campaign is working with other candidates "based on our shared concerns on the sanctity of the voting process -- especially as it relates to voters with disabilities -- in the upcoming primary election."

Officials with the State Board of Elections could not immediately be reached for comment.

Each early voting location will have at least one touch screen machine available for voters with disabilities who cannot vote with the paper ballot. Judges will need to be trained to alert them to the issues with races that have multiple screens of candidates, officials have said.

The state's touch screen machines — which are different from ones used in recent elections — can fit seven candidates on a screen. At least half-a-dozen races in the primary feature more candidates than that, including the Republican presidential primary race and the Democratic race for mayor of Baltimore.

Trone is running in the Montgomery County-based district currently held by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Senate candidate whose last name may also place him on the second page of the electronic balloting system.

Other Democratic candidates in the 8th District include David Anderson, Del. Kumar Barve, former Obama administration aide Will Jawando, former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, former State Department official Joel Rubin and Del. Ana Sol-Gutierrez.

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