Posted by Thomas Nephew on October 31st, 2007
I attended a fundraiser for Maryland District 20 (Takoma Park/Silver Spring) Delegate Heather Mizeur tonight. In her remarks to everyone she said she’d been assigned the job of getting the corporate tax and loopholes part of O’Malley’s budget plan* through as a separate bill in the Assembly during the two week special session that began yesterday. Despite her support for that part of O’Malley’s plan, she also said that she’d be strongly opposing slots legislation, and that if it were passed it would be something Marylanders would regret for a long time to come.
She also said she’d be working for paper ballots as provided for in the regular session earlier in the year — turns out she’d noticed me in the crowd and knew that was something I’ve been following.
I asked her about it, once I had a chance, and she had some good news: money has been allocated to optical scan voting in the budget submitted by Governor O’Malley to the joint Spending and Affordability Committee. As Ways and Means Committee chair, District 20 Delegate Sheila Hixson is on this committee. That’s good; Delegate Hixson was the sponsor of last session’s HB18 calling for a optically scannable paper ballots by 2010, which passed unanimously in the House of Delegates. However, the joint SB392/HB18 measure put up a final hurdle, making implementation of optical scan voting “contingent on the appropriation of sufficient general, special, or federal funds in the State budget no later than fiscal year 2009…” So getting optical scan funding into the first draft of the budget was critical — and it got in.
But that’s just the first step, so it’s still important to contact your state delegates and senator about this. A key argument at this point is that optical scan is cheaper than electronic voting machines — far fewer machines are needed, as TrueVoteMD’s Shazia Anwar pointed out earlier this year:
The best solution to our current voting problems is to implement a precinct-based optical scanner system with a ballot-marking device for disabled voters. This will ensure the creation of a paper record of your vote that will be the official record during a mandatory audit and any recount. Computer experts and election reform advocates agree that this is the most secure system available, and it is also the most fiscally responsible solution, since it would require less machines (2000 optical scanners and 2000 ballot marking devices versus 24,000 electronic voting machines + printers) and thus less operating costs for our counties.
For more information on optical scan vs. electronic voting, see TrueVoteMD‘s side by side comparison. Make sure your Maryland legislators know: optical scan voting means more secure voting for less money. We’re on the verge of closing the deal on a much, much better voting system for Maryland.