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Computer error impacts thousands of voters before primary

Posted at 8:14 PM, Jun 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-25 22:06:32-04

The Maryland Board of Elections say poll workers are prepared for voters who may have been impacted by a computer glitch not reflecting certain voters’ address and party changes.

The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) today determined that approximately 80,000 voters have been affected. 

Nikki Charlson, the deputy administrator for the Maryland State Board of Elections, says poll workers should be able to handle those changes.

“At this point, it falls mostly to our poll workers to process perhaps more voters through than had planned. It might mean additional provisional ballots to be processed by the county election officials, but they’re prepared for that and they will be processing all of those and making sure that they get counted,” she said.

The board noticed Friday something wasn’t right with certain voter info.

Changes to certain people’s addresses – those who’ve moved since April 22nd of last year to June 5th of this year – weren’t reflecting because of a computer glitch with Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration.

An easy adjustment says Charlson.

“They’ll have to fill out a form and give us their new address, get their ballot, vote it, and be on their way,” she said.

Still, one state senator is calling the issue a ‘mess’ and criticizing the Hogan administration.

“We’re the ones who discovered the problem and we’re the ones fixing the problem. It’s just a bunch of politics, I think,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a sit down with WMAR-2 News.

The state says they’ve sent email notifications of the possible issue to the impacted voters.

Those who aren’t sure should check online to see where they need to go vote.

“Our poll workers are very well-trained on it and in that one process, they will be able to update their address, get their correct ballot, and have that ballot counted,” Charlson said.

No eligible voter will be denied the right to vote as a result of this programming error.

MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn released a statement on the voter registration errors.

The MDOT Auditor will immediately begin a review of MDOT MVA’s Information Technology systems and management controls. The public relies on us to follow through on our customer service commitments, and MDOT MVA clearly fell short in this case. While all Marylanders, who are eligible to vote in this election, can vote tomorrow, the fact that their information wasn’t updated with the State Board of Elections as it should have been is unacceptable and will be remedied. I apologize to the Marylanders that count on us every day, and I assure all impacted voters that we will work overtime to make this right.

Governor Larry Hogan's office also weighed in;

Our administration is obviously incredibly disappointed that this happened. What matters most is that every eligible voter will be able to vote, and every vote will be counted. The Governor has directed the auditor for the Maryland Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive review of the situation, and ordered MVA leadership to make themselves available for any legislative hearings.

Anyone with questions should call the State Board of Elections at 1-800-222-8683, email info.SBE@maryland.gov, or visit their website