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Maryland State Board of Elections sued for inaccurate voting records

Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-15 18:21:36-04

BALTIMORE — A group of everyday Maryland voters, that also happens to include computer scientists and statisticians, combed through the last three years of data from the Maryland State Board of Elections They were alarmed by what they found.

"The voter rolls seem to be just rife with errors,” Ed Hartman, attorney for Maryland Election Integrity LLC, said.

The group claims to have found tens of thousands of errors in both the voter registration database and in the vote counts for the 2020 and 2022 general elections:

  • 79,349 Current Apparent Registration Violations
  • 62,075 Voting Violations in the 2020 General Election
  • 27,623 Voting Violations in the 2022 General Election

They took their data to the board of elections, but after getting no response, they filed a civil suit in federal court. Annapolis-based attorney Ed Hartman is representing them.

In the lawsuit, Hartman argues the Federal Election Commission sets a “maximum acceptable error rate" for voting systems: [all] systems shall achieve a report total error rate of no more than one in 125,000."

He calculates that for the 2020 election, which had 3 million voters, the maximum allowable errors would have been about 24 errors, and in the 2022 election, which had about 2 million voters, about 16 errors.

"The law only allows for a handful of errors[…]and we have tens of thousands of them, so the magnitude beyond what federal law allows, is unfortunately easily established. And our goal is not at all to go back and attack what happened. Our goal is to go forward and try to clean it up.”

The group of voters make up an LLC called Maryland Election Integrity. Hartman says they most likely sought him out because they knew he represented Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox in his 2022 court battle over whether the Board of Elections could begin counting mail-in ballots early, to avoid delays experienced during the primary. Cox’s effort was ultimately unsuccessful.

Maryland Election Integrity LLC is joined in the suit by another group, based in Missouri, called United Sovereign Americans, Inc. That organization says it’s preparing litigation in 23 states, including Maryland. The website bio for chairman Harry Haury says, “he was directly involved with elections systems analysis after the 2020 election where he was the first to advocate focusing on the obvious and massive election misconduct. He submitted expert testimony in several election challenges in 2020, including testimony filed before the Supreme Court.”

Asked whether Hartman is concerned the association with such politically polarizing cases will lead people to automatically disagree with the premise of this case, he said: “When I was representing Dan Cox, I have to say I was shocked at how he was treated by the media, and the ferocity of their feelings against him continue. Unfortunately, that covers anything, and I guess because I represented him I am somehow painted with that brush. But this has nothing to do with Mr. Cox, nothing to do with Mr. Trump, and nothing to do with past elections.”

"We're not going back and saying a particular election was lost because of this. We don't know, and we're not going that route - it's way too late, and that would be a much more difficult procedure. […] ​Our point is - we're trying to catch it early, so that nobody has to worry about it. So we can maybe stop arguing about whether or not there was fraud in the election,” Hartman said.

In response to the lawsuit, Joanne Antoine, executive director for the advocacy group Common Cause Maryland said: “One of these groups was incorporated in Missouri. The other was founded by a lawyer in South Carolina. That should tell you all you need to know about their concerns for elections in Maryland. Maryland has some of the most secure elections in the country. Common Cause Maryland and our partners have worked hard over the last few decades to improve our post-election processes, learn from infrequent voting machine errors, and establish trust between election administrators and the communities they serve. This lawsuit is an attempt to sow doubt in the work we’ve done. We stand with the Board of Elections and election officials across the state, and we hope that this lawsuit is swiftly rejected by the court.”

Hartman responded: “That’s not at all what we’re about. We’re not going back and pointing fingers at anyone. We’re not even pointing fingers here; we’re not calling anyone a bad actor. What we’re saying is the data shows the system has gone beyond what is legally permitted. All we want to do is bring it back into compliance, so that people can believe in the system. Everyone should want that. I’m not sure why - you really gotta go far afield in your argument to say that it’s a bad idea to make sure the election system is in compliance federal and state law. We want that, and anyone who’s running for office certainly wants that.”

The Office of the Maryland Attorney General confirmed it is representing the state board of elections in this case, but declined to comment further.

In October 2023, a state audit found several issues with the board of election's procedures, specifically with identifying dead and duplicate voters and getting them off the rolls.

The State Board of Elections (SBE) disputed most of the findings, either calling them either inaccurate, mischaracterized, or representative of a very small percentage of voter records. But the agency did agree to work to improve its procedures. The agency noted that in February 2023, an independent supervisory review of the programming and distribution of the ballot database was established, and will be used in all future elections. It also changed the oversight process of local election boards to ensure any identified errors are corrected in a timely manner, per the audit’s recommendation.

As part of its response, the SBE writes: “While SBE agrees to enhanced procedures to identify deceased and duplicate voters, it maintains that the current processes are comprehensive and effective and notes that OLA’s characterization of the current process and the figures in the discussion notes are mischaracterized. Moreover, the manual review required to enhance procedures will require additional staff given the current workload of the unit."

SBE23 by Rushaad Hayward on Scribd