ANNAPOLIS – Election officials statewide are organizing outreach activities today in a last-minute effort to register potential voters for the state’s March 2 presidential primary.
Voters intending to participate in the primary must register with the State Board of Elections by 9 p.m. Tuesday. Only registered voters may vote in the primary.
In addition to the presidential candidates, ballots will include contenders for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, state judges and county races.
The statewide push was organized as part of a partnership with Giant Food.
Voting machine demonstrations and voter registration information will be available at about 50 locations in Giant Food stores between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. today. Registration materials will be available in most jurisdictions, State Board of Elections officials said.
The new touch-screen voting machines will be used statewide, except in Baltimore City, for the first time Super Tuesday. Some are still concerned, however, over security flaws.
In a briefing for lawmakers last week, the Department of Legislative Services detailed the machines’ vulnerabilities, which included multiple votes, physical tampering and susceptibility to outside hackers.
State Board of Elections spokeswoman Pamela Woodside said officials are confident that “all security measures have been implemented.”
Bills introduced in the General Assembly recently would require the touch-screen voting machines to produce paper copies of individual votes in addition to electronic records. Current practice produces a printed record of all votes cast in a precinct once the polls have closed.
Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Paula C. Hollinger, D-Baltimore County, said the Board of Elections was correcting all the security problems it could.
Hollinger said the voting machine security study was intended to push the limits of the machines, and that she was confident the primary election results would be accurate.
“We would be much more likely that another system could be tampered with than what we’re using now,” Hollinger said.
In addition to voter outreach events, registration applications are available at local election offices, public libraries, post offices, Motor Vehicle Administration locations, social services offices and on the Board of Elections Web site. They must be postmarked by Feb. 10 at 9 p.m.
Absentee ballot applications must be received by Feb. 24. Late applicants may request an absentee ballot in person after Feb. 25.
Voters registering for the first time must provide a valid photo ID.
-30- CNS 02-06-04