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Errors Reported at the Rockville Polls  (MD)

Ann E. Marimow   Washington Post   06 November 2007

Scores of voters in Rockville, who are choosing a new mayor and four City Council members today, were mistakenly identified as having already voted by absentee ballot when they arrived this morning at polling places throughout the city.

The error, which raised concerns among candidates about double-voting, occurred after the State Board of Elections sent Rockville officials the wrong copy of a voter database.
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"It was our mistake, and we'll review our procedures to make sure this type of mistake doesn't happen again," said Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator for the elections board. The state's list marked voters with a home address that begins with the number five as absentee voters in the electronic poll books.

Goldstein said city election officials were instructed to allow these voters to cast ballots on touch-screen machines and to keep track of their names in handwritten lists. To ensure that voters are casting only one ballot, Goldstein said officials are being told to compare the names of the voters affected by the glitch to those who actually cast absentee ballots. He estimated that roughly 10 percent of Rockville's 28,000 registered voters were affected.

"Rockville quickly jumped on that, so that voters could be served right away," Goldstein said. "The vast majority of voters were completely unaffected by this issue."

The confusion at polling places revived memories of widespread problems that marred the September 2006 primary. In that election, human error and technical glitches led to long lines and some voters being turned away throughout Montgomery County.

"Here we go again," said Drew Powell, a candidate in the mayor's race to replace three-term Mayor Larry Giammo. "A lot of people have been working very hard in this election, and to have people's votes not count or be counted twice is unacceptable."

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