Chesapeake: The Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Newsletter
Chapter Home
Newsletter Home
Past Issues

Paper, Not Vapor! Update on Paper Ballot Issue in Maryland
click for print view

by Linda Schade | 2005

For the last two years, Delegate Sheila Hixson and Senator Paula Hollinger have thwarted citizen efforts to pass a widely supported bill requiring that voter-verified paper ballots (VVPB) replace our state’s flawed Diebold voting system. Our current system is vulnerable to human error, computer malfunction and malicious tampering. Worse yet, it is impossible to verify if  our votes have been accurately recorded, and the system cannot perform independent recounts!

The good news is, however, that the 2006 legislative session looks promising for the accuracy and transparency of Maryland’s elections.

 The reason: Reports from both the prestigious national Carter-Baker Commission and a recent U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) recommend the adoption of paper ballots, and 26 other states already have passed VVPB bills. And most of all, these days it is nearly impossible to find a candidate for public office in Maryland who does not support fixing the voting system with a paper trail! All three gubernatorial candidates—O’Malley, Duncan and Ehrlich—are on record as supportive, as are numerous other legislators.

 However, making supportive public statements does not constitute legislation or budgetary funding. Delegate Sheila Hixson and Senator Paula Hollinger still oversee election issues in the state capital, and Governor Ehrlich still needs to allocate adequate funds. Also, thanks to corporate lobbying, some legislators think that non-paper methods of  “verifying” the vote are acceptable. Computer security experts say they are not.


Available Options

Technically, there are two ways to institute verifiable voting.

We could retrofit the Diebold electronic voting machines. Although retrofitting the system is better than nothing, we would still be stuck with a poor quality, difficult to administer, and expensive system. (Just think of software and hardware upgrades!)

We could also commit to replacing our current machines with the best available system, which would be the precinct-based optical scan. Op-scan systems have most people voting on paper ballots, which are counted by op-scan machines in the polling place. This allows for voters to correct errors, and it’s also cost effective and has a built-in paper trail.


Call Your Legislators Now!

We need a permanent independent record of  voters’ intents. Please call your legislators and insist on paper ballots, because all reforms depend on our ability to get our votes counted at the ballot box.For more information, you can visit or call the TrueVoteMD office at 301-270-6150.        n


> 2005 Table of Contents


Up to Top