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October 12, 2006

It's Your Choice: Vote, No Matter What

Chris Cavey

The General Election is fast approaching and both political parties are, in some fashion, promoting absentee ballot voting. Casting your ballot, in advance, on paper, delivered via the good ole faithful U.S. Postal Service. Have you wondered why?

The simple reason is that the Diebold "touch screen" system has faults, is not passing all the tests with 100 percent accuracy, and leaves no paper trail for verification. A dream come true for the gaggle of election law attorneys who want work after the election. But it's a nightmare for candidates who want verification that they have earned the public's votes "fair and square;" plus it's totally unacceptable for citizens who want their vote to count.

Every major print publication in Maryland carried the post-primary news that the e-pollbooks had a glitch in their synchronization. According to the mock election tested last week at BWI Thurgood Marshall Marriott, the hardware fix is to attach a mouse to each e-pollbook and demand that none of the volunteer under-trained election judges touch the screens on the e-pollbooks.

Yeah, right.I also have some swampland in Florida I'd like to sell the same people who believe this will happen! The attachment of additional hardware does not answer, however, the question of the security of the software. A recent Princeton University study indicates concerns that results can be tampered with and votes altered by hacking into the system. (

No wonder Montgomery County Executive, and former gubernatorial candidate, Doug Duncan has come out to say that he will vote absentee ballot and urges others to do the same. He stated that he does not trust the system and that Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, is "in over her head." Mr. Duncan is in essence taking Governor Robert Ehrlich's side on this issue of voting integrity.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have mailed thousands of absentee ballot request forms to their prospective party regulars. Each knows they need, in the bank, verifiable votes for their prospective teams. Only Mayor Martin O'Malley and State Elections Administrator Lamone appear to be confident in the current system.

The Democrats recently installed within the articles of law this provision for "no-fault" absentee ballot voting. You no longer need an excuse of any kind.just apply and your ballot is sent. Do you think they had the foreknowledge that this system would be screwed up for the re-election of the first Republican governor in 40 years?

We citizens need to become as patriots. We need to take action. We need to protect our vote and insure the methods are working. Here is what we can do.

Vote by absentee ballot. If you live in a cave (wired for internet, of course) and haven't received a request form by mail, download a request for absentee ballot from the State Board of Elections website. ( Then mail it to your local elections board. You will then receive your ballot in the mail. You can vote in the privacy of your home. Your friendly mail carrier will deliver your vote safe and guaranteed by your federal government to your local Board of Elections.

These old school methods will always rule when the new ways are questionable. Your vote will be verifiable and in the bank for your candidate.

If you wish to take your patriotism to a higher level, sign up to be an election judge. The hours are long and the pay is poor; but your service to the State of Maryland is immeasurable.

The governor placed such a high importance on this one-day job he offered "comp" time to all state employees who answered his call to work as election judges. The trifecta! - State holiday, election judge pay and comp time in the bank for your future state vacations. Even with this enticement you can volunteer as judges are still needed in most jurisdictions. (

If you are a true partisan patriot, you can be a poll watcher for your party or candidate. You are the eyes on the inside looking for "funny business." You can watch the set-up, opening and teardown of a polling place. Check to see who has voted - or not. Watch to see that procedures are according to the law without interfering with the equipment, judges or voters.

Last, but not least, for those in the techno-geek field, you can be a Diebold technician for the day. The company who brings you the questionable voting machines needs rovers and troubleshooters. Just apply on line, shoot a quick resume and you can help the cause. (

Be patriotic! Your forefathers would demand your participation. Take action! Elections set the course of our government and our economy. Mostly do this because it's the right thing to do! This is a call to check for the integrity of our voting and election system.

Elections are about choices. Regardless of political party, we need to make sure we are heard.

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