Voting System FAQ
A DRE voting system was selected because of the many advantages that it offers over other voting systems. DRE voting systems:
- Eliminate issues of voter intent
- Prevent "overvotes" (i.e., when a voter votes for more candidates than allowed)
- Provide voter with a summary of a voter's selections before casting a ballot
- Allow most voters with disabilities to vote a secret ballot
- Offer magnified ballots for voters with low vision
- Accommodate multiple languages
To comply with the federal Help America Vote of Act of 2002, each polling place in Maryland is required by 2006 to have at least one accessible voting system for voters with disabilities. Implementing a DRE voting system statewide means that all voters - including voters with disabilities - enjoy the advantages of a DRE voting system.
First, Maryland law requires that a voting system must be examined by a federally appointed independent testing authority (ITA) and be shown by the ITA to meet the federal performance and test standards for electronic voting systems. An ITA conducts a comprehensive testing process on the hardware and software of the voting system and performs a review of the source code.
Second, a voting system must be certified for use in Maryland. Certification involves end-to-end testing of the voting system.
Third, after the ballots are loaded on each voting unit, a pre-election test is performed on each voting unit. During this test, elections officials confirm that the results match the expected outcome. After confirmation, the voting units are cleared of all votes and sealed and secured until Election Day.
Lastly, Maryland has implemented a thorough public testing demonstration and parallel testing program. This program will involve randomly selecting voting units and voting scripted ballots to confirm the accuracy of the voting system.
In addition to these tests, multiple security analyses have been performed on Maryland's voting system. While the analyses did recommend that certain steps be taken to further safeguard the voting system, these recommendations were not the result of finding evidence of manipulation or inaccurate tabulation. The implementation of these procedures, in conjunction with the thorough pre-election testing, has further reduced the likelihood of a technical malfunction or tampering with a unit occurring without detection.
- An audio ballot. Using headphones, the voter listens to the ballot and records the vote using a keypad. Both the headphones and keypad are provided. To assure the privacy of the voter, the voting unit's screen is blank while the audio ballot feature is being used.
- A magnified ballot for voters who have low vision.
- A high contrast ballot for voters with visual impairments.
- An adjustable screen to accommodate voters who prefer or need to sit while voting.
To use an audio ballot just ask an election judge for the particular option. You will not be required to provide an explanation or fill out additional paperwork. Election judges will be available to answer questions and, if needed, provide assistance.
If you need assistance voting, you may select someone to assist in the voting process. Maryland law prohibits a voter's employer or agent of the employer or an officer or agent of the voter's union from serving as a voter's assistant. An election judge may assist a voter, but only in the presence of another election judge of a different political
When you have finished voting all contests, a summary or review page will appear. This is your opportunity to review your selections for each contest. If you did not vote - intentionally or unintentionally - for a particular contest, that contest will appear in red. To vote for that contest, simply press the red box, and the ballot page with the unvoted contest will appear. You can then make your selection for that contest.
When you have finished making your selections and reviewing your ballot, press the "Cast Ballot" button. Remember, you cannot change your votes after you have pressed the "Cast Ballot" button so make sure you have reviewed your ballot before pressing the button.
In addition to the election officials, physical access to the voting system is restricted. Prior to an election, the voting units are stored in a locked warehouse and only authorized individuals can enter the warehouse. Only election officials who have had a criminal background check are able to access the election database.
The voting units are sealed until Election Day morning when they are opened by sworn, bipartisan election judges. Election judges confirm that there is tamper tape covering access to the compartment with the power button and memory card. During Election Day, election judges ensure that only registered voters use the voting equipment and continuously monitor voting. Throughout the day, election judges compare the number of voters recorded as voting against the number of votes cast on the voting units and would identify any discrepancies immediately.
After the polls close, election judges compare the vote totals generated by the voting units against the voter turnout totals recorded by the election judges. A sworn, bi-partisan team of election judges transports the memory cards to the election office. During transit, the voting units are again sealed, and access to the memory cards is restricted to specific election officials.
To vote, an election judge gives a voter a voter access card. This card tells the voting unit which ballot to load and only allows one ballot to load. Once the voter presses the "Cast Ballot" button, the voter access card ejects. If a voter tries to reinsert the card after voting, an "invalid card" error is displayed, the card is ejected, and no ballot is loaded.
The voting system does not, however, provide a voter-verified paper trail. The State Board of Elections conducted a study on voter-verified paper trail and other voter verification technologies. The findings of the study are that these solutions are not ready for implementation.