MD voting machines didn't recognize Mc's or O's

Among myriad problems with Diebold machines in MD primary was that the software didn't recognize names starting with Mc or O'. Voters were told they weren't registered.

The Annapolis (Md.) Capital looks into some troubling aspects of Maryland's disastarous primary election last week. Some people were turned away from the polls saying they had already voted.

Dale Voss of Annapolis isn't sure whether he voted once, twice or not at all in last week's primary election. His wife, Marilyn, stopped by the Salvation Army office to vote, and was told she couldn't. The new computerized poll system said she had voted earlier in the day. Turned out, that was her husband.

She was told that elections officials could remove the data that said her husband had already voted, and he could come back. She voted. He came back later, slipped the plastic card in the machine and voted again.

"We got to thinking, what's the status of my first vote and my second vote?" Mr. Voss said. "Do they have a record of my voting twice, is the question. I actually used the machine to vote twice. Maybe they thought one vote wouldn't make a difference."

Problems like these were rare, elections officials maintain, but the state did suffer from machines that weren't synchronized at polling place, machines that shut down without warning and machines that didn't have registered voters listed.

John McLaughlin of Riva encountered one of those problems. He showed up at his neighborhood fire hall to vote and was told that he wasn't on the registered voter list. The Democrat filled out a paper ballot similar to the cards elections officials are still counting today.

He said his name was missing in the computer, as was every other McLaughlin except a guy in Baltimore.

"Most of the people I voted for have conceded their defeat already," Mr.McLaughlin said. "That kind of disenfranchises me entirely. My vote is not counted. I wonder if when it comes time for me to serve on jury duty, if they'll remove me from the rolls."

Donna Duncan, director of the election management division for the state board, said the equipment had a glitch that didnt' recognize names that started with Mc or O'.

Republican officials are taking aim at the election - ironic since Republicans have staunchly defended the use of Diebold machines in states that delivered Republican victories.

"We want to verify the integrity of the election," said Chuck Gast, chairman of the county GOP. "We have significant questions regarding the security of the machines, that the information in the poll books matches up with the number of ballots cast." State Sen. Janet Greenip, R-Crofton is also holding the election board's feet to the fire. She is holding hearing on the election next week. "I want an explanation from the Board of Elections about what happened and what we're going to do so it doesn't happen again," Mrs. Greenip said.